*151 million records of Americans’ calls collected by the NSA in 2016

The NSA collected 151 million records of Americans’ phone calls last year despite the USA Freedom Act of 2015. The NSA also complied with requests from government officials to reveal the identities of 1,934 U.S. persons ensnared in the foreign surveillance.

Metadata about the calls such as the number of the caller and recipient, as well as the duration and time of the call was also collected.

The annual report, issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, provides the first assessment of the effectiveness of the 2015 USA Freedom Act which was meant to limit dragnet surveillance of millions of Americans’ phone records.

We are perhaps supposed to feel better by knowing that the 151 million records of Americans gobbled up last year included multiple calls made from or to the same phone numbers. The real count of how many Americans phone records were collected minus the duplication issue is reportedly smaller, but the report doesn’t provide that number.

The report comes on the heels of the NSA announcement that it will stop sifting through emails or other internet communications of people who are not targets of surveillance if an actual target is mentioned in the communications. The NSA said, “Instead, this surveillance will now be limited to only those communications that are directly ‘to’ or ‘from’ a foreign intelligence target.”

The new transparency report reveals that the total number of probable cause court orders issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court was 1,559 in 2016. Of the estimated FISA “probable cause” targets, 19.9 percent were Americans.

Congress is deciding whether or not to reauthorize FISA Section 702 which gives the NSA the thumbs up to collect information on Americans as long as they are communicating with a foreign target. The law is set to expire at the end of this year. In 2016, there were 106,469 targets of Section 702 orders; there were 94,368 in 2015.

Amid President Trump’s continued accusations of warrantless surveillance ordered by former President Obama, accusations that former National Security Advisor Susan Rice sought to learn the identities of Trump campaign officials before the 2016 election, the report revealed that the NSA complied with requests from government officials to reveal the identities of 1,934 U.S. persons ensnared in foreign surveillance.

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