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Advisory Panel: End NSA Surveillance Program

<p>Outside group says bulk data collection program is illegal.</p>
Image: Network cable in front of binary code
epa04033000 An illustration picture shows network cables hanging from a computer screen which shows rows of binary code in Cologne, Germany, 20 January 2014. The discussion about the spying by US intelligence service NSA has not quieted down after the speech by US President Obama. On 17 January 2014, US President Barack Obama held a press conference where he announced that he was ordering changes to the United States' intelligence gathering policies. EPA/OLIVER BERGOLIVER BERG / EPA

An outside advisory panel Thursday will say that the bulk data collection program run by the National Security Agency is illegal and should be halted.

A summary of a report to be issued Thursday by the bipartisan five-member board said:

  • Section 215 the Patriot Act “does not provide an adequate legal basis” to support the NSA’s collection of records of telephone calls.
  • The NSA program violates a federal law called the Electronic Communications Privacy Act which prohibits telephone companies from giving customer records to the government except in response to a specific search warrant.
  • The data collection done under the program “has shown minimal value in safeguarding the nation from terrorism.” The board members said that based on the classified briefings and documents they received, “we have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation.”

The board was created by Congress in 2007 to recommend policies to balance protecting the country from terrorism with ensuring privacy and civil liberties.