The NSAâ€™s surveillance program is illegal and should be stopped, according to the Privacy & Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), an independent agency established within the executive branch of the United States government.
The agency published a 238-page report analyzing the NSAâ€™s 215 metadata collection program and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) operations, specifically on the legal and privacy issues raised by the bulk collection of telephone records to counteract terrorist efforts.
â€œWe question whether the American public should accept the governmentâ€™s routine collection of all its telephone records because it helps in cases where there is no threat to the United States,â€ the report says. â€œThe governmentâ€™s collection of a personâ€™s entire telephone calling history has a detrimental effect on individual privacy.â€
The agency also warns about the risks of misusing the data collected to blackmail or intimidate certain groups of people. This can also have a negative impact on peopleâ€™s confidence in communication within their peer group about sensitive topics.
PCLOB recommends ending the program because â€œthe bulk telephone records program lacks a viable legal foundation, implicates constitutional concerns over the First and Fourth Amendmentsâ€ and â€œraises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter.â€
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) is a federal court authorized to oversee requests for surveillance warrants against suspected foreign intelligence agents inside the United States by federal law enforcement agencies.