US government publishes its first ever NSA transparency report via Tumblr

US government publishes its first ever NSA transparency report via Tumblr

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) released a document today giving some crucial insights into the National Security Agency’s widespread surveillance operations in 2013.

The transparency report, published via Tumblr, lists the number of National Security Letters, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) orders, and use of the FISA Business Records provision over the 12-month period.

The report lists 1,767 FISA orders, 178 applications for business records – of which 423 “selectors” were queried under the NSA’s telephony metadata program – and 19,212 National Security Letters.

Richard Salgado, Director of Law Enforcement and Information Security at Google, said the transparency report “was a step in the right direction” but warned there was “still more to be done.”

“The government reports in a manner that makes it impossible to compare its report with the report of companies, such as the Google Transparency Report. Specifically, the government has chosen to disclose an estimated number of “targets” that it has surveilled, rather than the number of “accounts” at issue.

This means that where the “target” is an organization composed of many people, and the government uses FISA to require disclosure of information from many different providers about the many accounts used by those people, covering a broad array of services, it may only report that there was one target.”

The report is in response to an earlier directive from President Obama that sought to declassify information about US government surveillance programs. The push to inform the public of these practises was, in itself, a response to the release of confidential information by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

➤ Statistical Transparency Report Regarding use of National Security Authorities [via DNI]

Featured image credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

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