Coalition letter calls for halt to NSA data sharing with law enforcement agencies

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2016 – Today, more than 30 organizations committed to government openness, personal privacy, civil liberties and human rights, are calling for the halt to proposed policy changes that could allow domestic law enforcement and intelligence agencies to circumvent constitutional protections and pose new threats to the privacy and civil liberties of ordinary Americans.

The letter calls attention to policy changes currently being developed in secret, which could give law enforcement agencies access to raw data collected by the NSA under Executive Order (EO) 12333 — a presidential directive governing overseas surveillance operations that has largely escaped public scrutiny. The proposed changes are particularly troubling, because while EO 12333 sets forth a broad framework for the collection of foreign intelligence information overseas, it also sweeps in massive amounts of Americans’ data as well, including private messages, address books, and Internet metadata.

The New York Times reported that the White House and the Director of National Intelligence are in the process of establishing procedures to expand intra-governmental access to raw data gathered by the NSA, including communications to, from, and about U.S. persons. The reporting has sparked renewed attention to the expansive data collection programs carried out under EO 12333. Members of Congress have asked for the NSA to confirm whether the Agency intends to routinely provide intelligence information—collected without a warrant—to domestic law enforcement agencies, and makes clear that the proposed shift in policy should not be done in secret.

The signatories write, “We join Representatives Lieu and Farenthold in requesting that you halt efforts to modify EO 12333 information sharing procedures and any other related efforts that would expand the sharing of raw information gathered by NSA with agencies that have law enforcement functions. We also ask that you release the 21-page draft order referenced in the New York Times article to enable the American public to weigh in on a planned policy change that would directly affect their rights and interests.”

Read the full letter here.