The United States: With the presidential elections just about to be carried out, NSA surveillance has escalated than ever before and seems to intensify even more in upcoming days.
The long criticized US Freedom Act had been known for reinstating the online privacy of citizens, when in actual it has extended the State sponsored surveillance program by three times. As reported by ABC News, the US Freedom Act of 2015 halts the metadata retention practice by NSA, and pushes the telecommunication companies of the United States to do the job. Surprisingly, the act has transferred the mass surveillance activities from NSA to telecommunications firms.
Largely overlooked in the debate that has ensued in the wake of recent attacks is the fact that under the new arrangement, our national security professionals will have access to a greater volume of call records subject to query in a way that is consistent with our regard for civil liberties
An Official Statement by NSA General Counsel, Glenn Gerstell
With the US Freedom Act in place, then NSA and other surveillance agencies will now require a warrant from FISA court before requesting information from telecom companies about a particular number.
In addition to this, the NSA is now free from maintaining its database of information related to users’ phone numbers. This gives NSA access to a wider data pool than it had before. As in past, only selected carriers were providing information to surveillance agencies. Also, the retained information was so massive that it was harder to maintain.
In our opinion, the state surveillance program may have been increased. But citizens are safer than past. As all surveillance agencies including NSA will now be required to obtain a warrant before acquiring confidential information of users, citizens’ data privacy is far more secured. However, users are still unclear about what information their telecom providers are retaining besides “metadata”?