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August 22nd, 2013
12:21 PM ET

Documents: NSA Illegally Collected Internet Communications

The White House is under renewed pressure over its surveillance programs now that newly declassified documents reveal the NSA collected thousands of e-mails and other communications by Americans that were not related to terrorism.

“Newly declassified secret court opinions show the NSA collected nearly 60 thousand domestic communications a year, for three years, ending in 2011,” reports CNN's Chris Lawrence.

“The data includes emails and other internet activity. The court also said the NSA misrepresented the scope of its effort.”

Marc Rotenberg, the Executive Director, of EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center), says "It's very disturbing. The National Security Agency has extraordinary surveillance capabilities. These tools that are supposed to be directed toward adversaries of US, not toward the American public."

“The NSA says it collected the data by mistake, a senior intelligence official telling reporters there was a ‘technological problem that could not be avoided, rather than any overreach,’” Lawrence says.

The Obama administration is under pressure from Republican and Democratic lawmakers over the sweeping nature of the NSA's secret data collection.

President Obama insisted the government is not violating your privacy in a speech he made just two weeks ago, saying "America is not interested in spying on ordinary people. Our intelligence is focused, above all, on finding information that's necessary to protect our people."

“The NSA is supposed to target foreign communications that have to do with potential terrorism investigations.”

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Filed under: NSA • Privacy • Security