US asked that 1934 Americans' names be 'unmasked' in intel

The United States' National Security Agency (NSA) collected data about over 151 million US citizens' phone calls in 2016 despite the legislation limiting the agency's collection of phone call details, Director of the US National Intelligence Daniel Coats said in a report. Under Section 702, NSA collects two types of internet communications: "downstream" and "upstream".

A more accurate count of the number of times the intelligence community searched for information on Americans comes from the report's "estimated number of queries concerning a known U.S. person of unminimized noncontents information"-in other words, searches specifically looking for Americans by identifying metadata, such as name or phone number".

The NSA has been gathering a vast quantity of telephone "metadata, ' records of callers" and recipients' phone numbers and the times and durations of the calls - but not their content - since the September 11, 2001, attacks.

The annual report, issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, provides the first assessment of the effectiveness of the 2015 USA Freedom Act which was meant to limit dragnet surveillance of millions of Americans' phone records.

Never miss a story again - sign up to our Telegram channel and we'll keep you up to speed! Rather, the report is formulated on the use of specific identifiers for Americans, such as e-mail addresses, social media profiles and so on.

This is because the Freedom Act still allows cellular carriers to collect call metadata on a bulk scale, data which can then be accessed by the NSA through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) without requiring a warrant.

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The new report also came amid allegations, recently repeated by President Donald Trump, that former President Barack Obama ordered warrantless surveillance of his communications and that former national security adviser Susan Rice asked the NSA to unmask the names of USA persons caught in the surveillance.

The report also revealed that on one occasion in 2016, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reviewed information about an American, whose data had been collected by the NSA under its surveillance programme.

Both Republican and Democratic members of the congressional intelligence committees have said that so far they have found no evidence to support either allegation. So if a target called a given phone number once a day for a year, it counts as 365 records that the NSA gets from a phone service provider. That way, records are collected from any number that called or was called by the target number, together with the every number each of those numbers interacted with.

Officials said that they don't have a breakdown of how many individuals' phone records are represented in that 151m. Under the provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), orders with the tag "probable cause" issued on a yearly basis remained steady for the most part, with 1,559 orders issued by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) applying to an estimated 1,687 targets, 336 of whom are labeled "US persons". And we should find out what the hell is going on, ' he said.

Last year, US intelligence agencies intercepted communications on 106,469 targets, according to an annual report released Tuesday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

  • Sonia Alvarado