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Former intelligence analyst turned whistleblower Edward Snowden is hailing legislation ending the government's collection of bulk telephone data as a "a historic victory for the rights of every citizen."
His views, published in a number of media outlets including the New York Times, come in a week in which cybersecurity and privacy concerns have dominated national headlines. President Barack Obama signed the "USA Freedom Act" Tuesday, moving the storage of bulk telephone metadata used by the National Security Agency to telecom companies rather than the government a move the president says strengthens civil liberty safeguards while "providing the American people with additional transparency measures."
"Ending the mass surveillance of private phone calls under the Patriot Act is a historic victory for the rights of every citizen, but it is only the latest product of a change in global awareness," Snowden wrote of the two year anniversary of his disclosure of the American government's use of surveillance programs on citizens.
Snowden is living in Russia as a fugitive and is wanted by the U.S. for espionage.
Snowden's comments also come in a week in which, according to an article, published by ProPublica and the New York Times, the Obama administration “has expanded the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance of Americans’ international Internet traffic to search for evidence of malicious computer hacking, according to classified NSA documents.”
On Thursday, the White House declined to elaborate on the matter.
"I'm not in position to talk in a lot of detail about covert govt programs that may or may not exists - what I can tell you is that (the Director of National Intelligence) has been clear - the US is facing a cyber threat that's increasing in frequency, scale, sophistication and severity of impact and there are variety of tools that our national security and law enforcement professionals rely on to keep us safe, one of those tools is section 702 of (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act)," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Thursday explaining that the administration feels section 702 provides authority under court oversight to target non U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States in order to acquire foreign intelligence information.