“And while NSA analysts examine only a very small percentage of the world’s traffic, if communications of U.S. persons are incidentally collected, the agency must follow minimization procedures that are approved by the U.S. Attorney General and designed to protect the privacy of U.S. persons,” Carney told reporters, according to The Hill.
A senior intelligence official told the New York Times on Wednesday the keywords the agency uses are “very precise,” but “acknowledged that there had been times when changes by telecommunications providers or in the technology had led to inadvertent overcollection.” The NSA reportedly “monitors for these problems, fixes them and reports such incidents to its overseers in the government.”
The Times reported the NSA’s surveillance is more extensive than previously known, with officials “casting a far wider net for people who cite information” and “searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans’ emails and text communications” without warrants.
“These procedures require NSA to minimize the acquisition processing, retention and dissemination of information of or concerning U.S. persons,” Carney said. “The purpose of the program is to investigate and potentially prevent terrorist threats emanating from foreign sources.”
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama alleged to Jay Leno on The Tonight Show that the federal government does not even spy on Americans.