Over the weekend, the NSA finally ended its contentiousPHONEmetadata spying program. It was first brought to public scrutiny after NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked documents to journalists about the scale of the US government’s spying, provoking a global debate over privacy andSECURITY. Though hailed as a hero by privacy activists, Snowden is viewed as a traitor by many in the US establishment, and would face trial if he returned home (he’s currently in exile in Russia.) But his leaks have provoked some politicalCHANGES. Key among these is the USA Freedom Act. It means that the NSA is no longer directly collecting millions of Americans’PHONE RECORDS. It actually came into effect this summer — but there was an 180-day grace period. That period ended just before midnight on Saturday, November 28. If the NSA wants this data, it will now have to apply to a FISA (foreign intelligence service) court to get it from one of thePHONE companies. Ewan MacAskill, a Guardian journalist who did some of the earliest reporting on Snowden’s leaks, describes it as a “first step but a modest one.” And he points out a “major” problem for privacy activists: “The reform applies only toPHONE RECORDS. The NSA can continue […]
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