May 5 (UPI) — The National Security Agency collected 534 million phone and text message logs from last year from communication providers in 2017, officials disclosed in a new report.
That total marked an increase of more than 300 percent from the amount of logs the NSA collected in 2016, according to the report. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released the annual surveillance-related statistics Friday as part of its transparency obligation under the USA Freedom Act, the report shows.
The 534 million detailed call records the National Security Agency obtained in 2017 compared to 151 million such records in 2016, according to the report.
NSA analysts mostly looked at records from providers such as AT&T and Verizon that indicate parties on calls, but not the content of those communications, a New York Times report shows.
Though the new report does not explain why more records were obtained last year, Chief Alex Joel of the Office of Civil Liberties, Privacy and Transparency, told the Times a number of things could have lead to the increase, including the amount of archived data companies keep as technology changes.
“Based on what we have learned from this data, we expect it will continue to fluctuate from year to year,” Joel said.
The USA Freedom Act went into effect in 2015 to reform the NSA’s spying program, placing some limits on data collection
The bulk call-data gathering program by the NSA dates back to the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden first revealed the data collection program in 2013, setting off debate about the balance between surveillance against terrorism and privacy rights.