On Thursday the White House announced the government would not follow advice contained in a scathing report from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB). The report found the NSA’s bulk data collection program is illegal and should be ended.
“We simply disagree with the board’s analysis on the legality of the program,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
“The … bulk telephone records program lacks a viable legal foundation,” the board’s report said, adding that it raises “serious threats to privacy and civil liberties” and has “only limited value.” The report, further, said the NSA should “purge” the files.
The president did not go nearly as far when he called last week for ending government control of phone data collected from hundreds of millions of Americans.
Carney claimed the president, in his address last week, did “directly derive” some of his ideas from the board’s draft recommendations. But he made clear that Obama does not see eye to eye with them on the legitimacy of mass phone record collection.
“The administration believes that the program is lawful,” he said.
Nevertheless, the findings could be used as leverage in federal lawsuits against NSA spying. The report concluded that the NSA collection raises “constitutional concerns” with regard to U.S. citizens’ rights of speech, association and privacy.
“The connections revealed by the extensive database of telephone records gathered under the program will necessarily include relationships established among individuals and groups for political, religious, and other expressive purposes,” it said. “Compelled disclosure to the government of information revealing these associations can have a chilling effect on the exercise of First Amendment rights.”
The panel added that the program “implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments.”