Privacy board says NSA data collection an 'effective tool'

By Kyle Johnson,

In an about-face from previous statements, a federal privacy board on Wednesday has said in a report that the NSA's domestic data collection program is both constitutional and an "effective tool."

According to Fox News, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board criticized the program nearly seven months ago, saying that it should be halted because it "lacked a viable legal foundation."

Well, the board has since changed its mind, now saying that the collection of phone records and data, which also included some U.S. citizens' information as well, has helped to stop several terrorist plots before they could happen and stands on mostly legal grounds, but noted that there are still some issues, The New York Times reports.

The board cited Section 702 of the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act in its report as allowing the NSA to better "acquire a greater range of foreign intelligence than it otherwise would have been able to obtain -- and to do so quickly and effectively."

The program "has proven valuable in the government's efforts to combat terrorism as well as in other areas of foreign intelligence."

The privacy board did note that there were problems with email address or phone numbers being collected that were simply mentioned in the body of a message rather than simply in the address, known as "about" collecting, which results in U.S. citizens' information also being collected.

While the director of national intelligence, James. R. Callper Jr., praised the privacy board's report, ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer felt it was a "weak report that fails to fully grasp the civil liberties and human rights implications of permitting the government sweeping access to the communications of innocent people."

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