May 01, 2017

The End of “About” Collection under Section 702

By Adam Klein

As Bobby and others have already noted, the NSA announced Friday that it is ending “about” collection under Section 702’s upstream component. I won’t rehash the basics here; readers should consult Charlie Savage’s essential New York Times story, NSA’s statements (here and here), and Bobby’s analysis.  Rather, I want to inject into the discussion a few issues that I haven’t yet seen broached elsewhere.

1) What is the net effect for 702’s intelligence and counterterrorism value? 

As Bobby notes, dropping “about” collection means that NSA will also lose some upstream collection of communications to or from a target. It appears that this was the price of placating the FISC after NSA analysts apparently (per the NYT) erroneously queried upstream data seeking information about one or more U.S. persons.  (Recall that, as the PCLOB’s 2014 report explained, under the NSA’s 702 minimization procedures “U.S. person identifiers are prohibited from being used to query the NSA’s Section 702 upstream collection of Internet transactions.”).

In isolation, that collateral reduction in “to/from” collection would be a bad thing for NSA’s foreign intelligence mission. Several caveats are in order here, however. 

Read the full article at Lawfare.

  • Podcast
    • September 10, 2019
    When your data is held hostage

    Technology and security expert Kara Frederick explains how and why U.S. local governments and electoral rolls are vulnerable to ransomware and what can be done about it. List...

    By Kara Frederick

  • Commentary
    • Lawfare
    • August 13, 2019
    Setting the Stage for U.S. Leadership in 6G

    Every day there are more headlines about China’s rise in 5G, the next generation of wireless communications technologies, and the economic and national security risksto the Un...

    By Martijn Rasser

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Affairs
    • September 27, 2018
    China’s Quantum Future

    China should be a “global leader in innovation” by 2035, President Xi Jinping declared during the Chinese Communist Party’s 19th National Congress last October. His remarks re...

    By Elsa B. Kania

  • Podcast
    • August 13, 2018
    Technology and Innovation in an Era of U.S.-China Strategic Competition

    China has taken significant steps to implement national strategies and encourage investment aimed at surpassing the U.S. in high-tech fields like artificial intelligence. In t...

    By Elsa B. Kania

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia