U.S. court renews surveillance program exposed by Snowden

WASHINGTON Sat Jul 20, 2013 12:10pm IST

A picture of Edward Snowden, a contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), is seen on a computer screen displaying a page of a Chinese news website, in Beijing in this June 13, 2013 photo illustration. REUTERS/Jason Lee/Files

A picture of Edward Snowden, a contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), is seen on a computer screen displaying a page of a Chinese news website, in Beijing in this June 13, 2013 photo illustration.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Lee/Files

Related Topics

Stocks

   

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government said on Friday a secret court that oversees intelligence activities granted its request to continue a telephone surveillance program - one of the two data collection efforts leaked by former security contractor Edward Snowden.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, or ODNI, said its authority to maintain the program expired on Friday and that the government sought and received a renewal from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court.

The ODNI said in a statement it was disclosing the renewal as part of an effort at greater transparency following Snowden's disclosure of the telephone data collection and email surveillance programs.

A top official said earlier on Friday that intelligence officials were working to declassify information on the programs that Snowden had already partially disclosed.

Robert Litt, general counsel of ODNI, said he was optimistic the intelligence community could make "a lot of progress" in declassifying the information.

U.S. officials faced a public uproar after Snowden began leaking classified information about telephone and email collection programs. Intelligence officials have been pushing to justify the programs as legal, particularly under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, which requires a secret court to approve the programs.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court sided on Monday with Yahoo Inc (YHOO.O) and ordered the Obama administration to declassify and publish a 2008 court decision justifying Prism, the data collection program revealed last month by Snowden.

The ruling could offer a rare glimpse into how the government has legally justified its spy agencies' data collection programs under FISA.

"One of the hurdles to declassification earlier was that the existence of the programs was classified," Litt said in response to questions after a speech at the Brookings Institution. "It's very hard to think about releasing the opinion that says a particular program is legal if you're not going to disclose what the program is. Now that the program has been declassified, we're going back and we're looking at these opinions."

Litt said intelligence officials were looking across the spectrum of its activities to see what could be declassified.

"We're trying to prioritize things that we think are of the greatest public interest," he said. "The highest priority is getting out fuller information about the programs about which partial information is already out."

The 2008 ruling mentioned by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court stemmed from Yahoo's challenge of the legality of broad, warrantless surveillance programs like Prism.

A number of major U.S. Internet companies, including Microsoft (MSFT.O), Google (GOOG.O) and Facebook (FB.O), have asked the government for permission to disclose the number of national security-related user data requests they receive.

Snowden, who faces espionage charges for releasing the classified information, has been holed up at a Moscow airport for three weeks trying to avoid prosecution. This week, he sought temporary asylum in Russia.

(Reporting by Deborah Charles; Editing by Peter Cooney)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Market Eye

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Bullish on Equities

Bullish on Equities

Bullish on Indian equities, but gains seen 'less sharp'- Goldman Sachs  Full Article 

Streamlining Operations

Jet Streamlines

Jet Airways chairman says looking to restructure debts, talking to bankers  Full Article 

Political Economy

Political Economy

Analysis - Watch what markets don't do as world politics turns nasty   Full Article 

Photo

Honda's India Thrust

Honda's India unit to account for 25 pct of Asia Pacific sales by March 2017 - exec   Full Article 

Short of Expectations

Short of Expectations

Apple revenue lags Street's view despite strong China growth  Full Article 

Mircosoft Results

Microsoft Results

Microsoft revenue rises, profit falls as Nokia absorbed  Full Article 

Relief For Sahara

Relief For Sahara

Supreme Court could allow Sahara boss to conduct asset sale talks, company says.  Full Article 

Photo

Food Scandal

Five held in China food scandal probe, including head of Shanghai Husi Food   Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage