November 18, 2013
The National Security Agency has literally been inundated with open-records requests for U.S. citizens concerned about their privacy.
In fact, since whistleblower Edward Snowden went public with documents proving the agency runs several massive surveillance programs that affect Americans, the NSA has had a 988 percent spike in queries from concerned citizens.
Just because people are asking, however, does not mean the NSA is offering answers.
According to a USA Today report, those who do submit a request receive only a customary pre-written letter from the agency, saying it can neither confirm nor deny any data concerning them has been gathered.
Pamela Phillips, head of the NSA Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act Office, which handles all requests received by the agency, told USA Today it has never received so many information requests. She said news stories reporting the scope of the NSA’s surveillance are driving the inquiries.
“We’ve had requests from individuals who want any records we have on their phone calls, their phone numbers, their e-mail addresses, their IP addresses, anything like that,” she was quoted by USA Today.
The NSA typically receives about 250 requests for information per quarter but, now, that number has skyrocketed. Phillips said the agency received 1,302 requests in the first part of June, just after the first batch of documents Snowden filched from the NSA went public.
Over the next three months, the NSA received 2,538 requests and the large number of queries has continued throughout the fall months, overwhelming Phillips’ staff.
She said her staff does not perform any searches for information because her office does not have access to surveillance files. She said the agency cannot confirm or deny if it has records on any person to avoid “tipping off surveillance targets.”
“We know we’re dealing with frustrated people and people who are upset by what they’re hearing,” Phillips said. “But that’s the only response that we’re able to provide them on that topic.”
Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.