Newly Declassified Documents Regarding the Now-Discontinued NSA Bulk Electronic Communications Metadata Pursuant to Section 402 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
Following a declassification review by the Executive Branch, the Department of Justice released on August 6, 2014, in redacted form, 38 documents relating to the now-discontinued NSA program to collect bulk electronic communications metadata pursuant to Section 402 of the FISA (“PRTT provision”). These documents are also responsive to a Freedom of Information Act request by the Electronic Privacy Information Center. The Intelligence Community previously released information about this program to the public on November 18, 2013.
Under the program NSA was permitted to collect certain electronic communications metadata such as the “to,” “from,” and “cc” lines of an email and the email’s time and date. This collection was done only after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved the government’s applications, and pursuant to court order generally lasting 90 days. NSA was not permitted to collect the content of any electronic communications. Like NSA’s bulk telephony metadata program under FISA section 501, this program was subject to several restrictions approved by the FISC, such as:
The information could be used only for counterterrorism purposes.
The information had to be stored in secure databases.
The databases could be queried using an identifier such as an email address only when an analyst had a reasonable and articulable suspicion that the email address was associated with certain specified foreign terrorist organizations that were the subject of FBI counterterrorism investigations. The basis for that suspicion had to be documented in writing and approved by a limited number of designated approving officials identified in the Court’s Order. Moreover, if an identifier was reasonably believed to be used by a United States person, NSA’s Office of General Counsel would also review the determination to ensure that the suspected association was not based solely on First Amendment-protected activities.
NSA was required to destroy the bulk metadata after a set period of time.
… After the 2009 discovery of certain compliance issues associated with NSA’s electronic communications and telephony bulk metadata collection programs, the Government took measures to strengthen compliance and oversight. More information on NSA’s enhanced compliance mechanisms can be found in the November 18, 2013, release.
As previously stated, this Internet communications metadata bulk collection program has been discontinued. The Intelligence Community regularly assesses the continuing operational value of all of its collection programs. In 2011, the Director of NSA called for an examination of this program to assess its continuing value as a unique source of foreign intelligence information. This examination revealed that the program was no longer meeting NSA’s operational expectations. Accordingly, after careful deliberation, the Government discontinued the program, and the metadata collected pursuant to this program has been purged.
In addition, the DOJ also released four documents that do not directly relate to bulk collection under the PRTT provision but are responsive to EPIC’s FOIA request. Like the documents relating to the bulk collection, these documents demonstrate the FISC’s judicial oversight of PRTT collection under the FISA.
On 7 August 2014, the World Health Organization declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa an international public health emergency. Over 1,000 people have died in the deadliest Ebola outbreak since the virus’s discovery in 1976.
Resources include: The Journal of Infectious Diseases, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene, Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, Health Policy and Planning, Journal of Tropical Pediatrics, Journal of Public Health, Oxford Medicine Online, Oxford Reference, Oxford Public International Law, and Oxford Bibliographies.
The imitation of Christ, 1889. Bound in crushed morocco, gilt-tooled doublures, satin endpapers, by Fazakerley, edges gilt and gauffered, with fore-edge painting of Jesus based on William Holman Hunt’s painting “The Light of the World,” 1854.