Thank Snowden? U.S. to Reveal Numbers of Americans Affected by Surveillance

Report may be out by next month.


James Clapper
Charlie Archambault/EPA/Newscom

Intelligence officials are preparing a report at the request of members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee to provide an estimate of how many Americans have had their personal data snapped up by federal surveillance.

Can anybody imagine this happening before Edward Snowden revealed the evidence that our own national intelligence apparatus was collecting huge amounts of our own communications data while trying to track down suspected terrorists? And yet he's probably not going to be coming home soon, despite his role in helping correct bad privacy-destroying government policies.

How much will be released isn't quite clear based on Reuters' reporting. It's nevertheless a promising development not just for government transparency but for Congress playing its role in serving as oversight over exactly how much authority these agencies should have. And the timing matters, as some of the National Security Agency's surveillance authorities (under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) are up for review next year and Congress will have to act. Dustin Volz at Reuters notes:

Intelligence officials have said that data about Americans is "incidentally" collected under Section 702, due to a range of technical and practical reasons. Critics have assailed such collection as back-door surveillance of Americans without a warrant.

[Director of National Intelligence James] Clapper, who is stepping down next month, suggested in April that providing an estimate of Americans surveilled under Section 702, a figure some have said could tally in the millions, might be possible, while defending the law as "a prolific producer of critical intelligence."

Clapper, we may recall, became well-known (seriously, would anybody be able to identify him prior to Snowden's leaks?) for getting caught lying to the Senate about the extent that personal data from Americans' communications was getting swept up in terrorism surveillance.

Several of the House members who signed on to this request directed to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence are also members of the relatively new Fourth Amendment Caucus, including caucus co-founders Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-California). Keep an eye on them next year as they push for reforms to Section 702 to better protect Americans from secret government surveillance.

NEXT: Architect of Title IX Overreach Appointed to U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Obama Says Russia Did It, Clinton Blames Comey: P.M. Links

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34 responses to “Thank Snowden? U.S. to Reveal Numbers of Americans Affected by Surveillance

  1. When I look at the photo in this article, I think about how much I’d like to change the VP sitting next to Trump with the other guy sitting next to Trump.

    Silicon Valley comes around. Who would of thunk it?

  2. Awesome alt text, as usual.

  3. Wouldn’t it be easier to revel the number of Americans not affected by surveillance?


    1. Well, there is the ones who don’t have a legit SSN, legal residence using their real name, a car registered using their real name, the intertoobz, a credit card, bank account in their real name, etc, etc. IOW, illegal immigrants. Yeah, the rest of us are being spied on and tracked like we’re potential terrorists.

        1. Under at least 3 different aliases. How do you track someone down when they, unlike the rest of us, are allowed to exist anonymously without any legal documentation?

    2. I take precautions.

  4. How much will be released isn’t quite clear based on Reuters’ reporting

    I have little faith it will be substantial, but you are right it is a step in the right direction.

    Also, your stupid alt text created an ear worm, and not only does that make you worse than Hitler, it makes you worse than Soave.

  5. Every time I see Clapper’s name brought up, all I can think of is that lamp someone invented that old people turned on and off by clapping their hands, ‘The Clapper’.

    1. +2 claps

      If only the surveillance state were so easily halted.

  6. In the Before Time, I remember a lot of people being upset about a law being used to find out what books people were checking out from the library and how this was an intolerable intrusion of privacy.

    But that law was passed by Team Red, and Team Blue is in charge now.

    What’s that you say? You mean the same law was used to justify the NSA’s mass surveillance?

    Well knock me over with a feather.

  7. U.S. to Reveal Numbers of Americans Affected by Surveillance

    100% minus the handful living off the grid?

    1. The ones that thought they were off the grid were the first to get tagged.
      Or did you thing the phrase “you can run but you can’t hide” applied to boxing?

  8. Fist’s Secret Revealed?

    To speed things up and conserve communications bandwidth, browsers attempt to keep local copies of pages, images, and other content you’ve visited, so that it need not be downloaded again later. Occasionally this caching scheme goes awry (e.g. the browser insists on showing out-of-date content) making it necessary to bypass the cache, thus forcing your browser to re-download a web page’s complete, up-to-date content. The rest of your cache is not affected.

  9. file under: Room 101

    Students at the University of Wisconsin, Madison are petitioning their school’s administration to revoke a conservative club’s charter and put its leaders “through intensive diversity training.”
    The petitioners are upset that YAF invited Ben Shapiro to speak on campus, accusing the group of “making campus a hostile environment.”

    1. Damn, I kinda feel bad for Shapiro. Now he’s hated by both crazy right and crazy left, and cosmos still don’t like him, and Chamber of Commerce lot will throw in with Trump anyway.

      Still, this was precious

      The petition goes on to blame YAF for “making campus a hostile environment by attempting to out and misgender LGBTQIA+ students,” claiming that some members have even “individually confronted” and thus “made feel unsafe prominent members of student government.”

    1. That’s so totally going to work in the real world.

      Manager: So how’s that project going? Where are you on that?

      Snowflake: Well, I haven’t started on that yet.

      Manager: Wait, the deadline is one week from now, the project is scheduled to take 4 weeks. You haven’t started?

      Snowflake: Some of my co-workers are making me feel unsafe, I overheard them talking about some things and they don’t agree with me!

      Manager: Ok, but why haven’t you started on this project?

      Snowflake: *screaming and bawling like infant* I’m triggered, I demand a safe space with puppies and coloring books!

      Manager: *crickets*

      1. The manager would most likely promptly arrange for a safe space — the snowflake’s own home. That’s place he’ll be for the foreseeable future as soon as he’s packed up his belongings and been escorted out of the building.

    2. I can’t judge too harshly. Had we had Puppy Days when I was at the university (of course my alma mater has them now, we ape the US without admitting it) I’d have been there every day.

      1. We have puppy days during final exams to help people de-stress. Works pretty well.

    3. Adulting is a word that makes me want to punch someone.

    4. Photos from the event show about two dozen students petting dogs and playing cornhole.

      Playing cornhole is a real stress reliever, I’ve heard.

  10. Clapper. That’s a face I could put in the bottom of my chamber pot.

  11. file under: thought crime

    “When you have hate paraphernalia, you’re one step away from hate violence,” Barouh said. “If that’s their thing, then they are just as guilty if someone goes on the site, gets a gun, and goes out and shoots somebody that they don’t see as the same as them.”

    The pants-shitting in the accompanying video is pretty good too. Who knew you could legally buy machine guns on the internet? Thanks NBC 4 NY I Team.

  12. Trump Derangement Syndrome spreads to China

    In her letter, which she posted to Mr Trump on Monday as well as posted online (in Chinese), Ms Zheng says: “We are far away in China, but we have seen reports of your sexist behaviour.
    “Gender equality is a global issue and the feminist movement will not stop just because of ‘straight man cancer’.
    “If those with ‘straight man cancer’ carelessly insult, discriminate, or are violent towards women, they will be made to pay a price for their actions and words.
    “We hope you know that feminists around the world are watching you.”

    1. When the feminists take over China, they will have literal cum and joke mines.

    2. “If those with ‘straight man cancer’ carelessly insult, discriminate, or are violent towards women, they will be made to pay a price for their actions and words.

      How about if I carefully insult you, you ignorant shrew?

    3. Well, at least one good thing – if the Chinese are getting into mass-producing cheap knock-off SJWism you know the production cycle’s about played out.

      1. Sounds like a lot of academic jobs are about to get outsourced.

  13. Damn, Trump’s been president-elect for half an hour and we’re already getting serious inquests into government surveillance. I feel like 2004 called and wants its administration back.

  14. Clapper, we may recall, became well-known (seriously, would anybody be able to identify him prior to Snowden’s leaks?) for getting caught lying to the Senate about the extent that personal data from Americans’ communications was getting swept up in terrorism surveillance.

    Is it not called perjury when you lie under oath to Congress?

  15. He makes me think of someone who has a raging case of the clap that’s antibiotic resistance and it’s make him rot away.

    What a rotten official, even by the already low standards of those types of power-hungry desperadoes.

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