On June 8 intelligence director James Clapper released details on the inner workings of PRISM–the collection program used by the Obama administration to monitor internet users.
According to Clapper, PRISM does not “unilaterally” collect information, but relies upon court orders “as authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).”
As The Hill reports, Clapper says companies turn over information to the government “only after receiving an order approved by a secret FISA court.” He claimed these court orders are granted only where there is a “foreign intelligence purpose” and the target of the order is believed to be outside of the U.S.
Thus, while companies like Microsoft and Google, and other email providers, have denied that NSA taps into private information on their servers at will, they all admit that they have to turn over information when a FISA order comes through. At the same time, the companies are barred from discussing the details or even the existence of a particular order.
Clapper said FISA courts require particular “targeting and minimization procedures” to be followed to prevent the incidental collection of data beyond that which is ordered.
He then said that to release more details than these about the program would be tantamount to giving “the nation’s enemies” a playbook for beating PRISM.
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