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Court gave NSA broad leeway in surveillance, documents show

Publication Date: 
June 30, 2014
Source: 
The Washington Post
Author: 
Ellen Nakashima

Jennifer Granick, CIS Director of Civil Liberties, weighs in on the lack of spying restrictions on U.S. government agencies for The Washington Post. 

Virtually no foreign government is off-limits for the National Security Agency, which has been authorized to intercept information “concerning” all but four countries, according to top-secret documents.
 
The United States has long had broad no-spying arrangements with those four countries — Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — in a group known collectively with the United States as the Five Eyes. But a classified 2010 legal certification and other documents indicate the NSA has been given a far more elastic authority than previously known, one that allows it to intercept through U.S. companies not just the communications of its overseas targets but any communications about its targets as well.

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Jennifer Granick, the director of civil liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, expressed concern about the prospect for capturing e-mails and phone calls of law-abiding foreigners. “The breadth of the certification suggests that the court is authorizing the government to spy on average foreigners and doesn’t exercise much if any control beyond that,” she said.