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January 13, 2015

FBI Deeply Involved in NSA’s PRISM Program: Report

The National Security Agency has become synonymous with mass surveillance but, it turns out, it is not the only federal law enforcement agency to be heavily involved.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has played a major role in the PRISM program, a top-secret program authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that monitors virtually every form of online communication available. The FBI, according to a newly declassified report obtained by the New York Times, has been just as involved as the NSA in monitoring the e-mails of foreigners from U.S. Internet companies such as Google and Yahoo since 2008.

The 231-page report, obtained via Freedom of Information request from the Department of Justice’s Inspector General, revealed the FBI, in 2009, began to keep copies of unprocessed communications that were collected without a warrant to analyze for its own purposes. Three years later, the agency began suggesting new e-mail accounts and phone numbers for collection — all of them belonging to foreigners.

The semi-redacted report, written by the Justice Department’s inspector general Michael E. Horowitz, indicated the FBI had done a good job in ensuring e-mail accounts targeted for warrantless collection belonged only to non-U.S. citizens overseas.

As the Times pointed out, some areas of the report were heavily redacted.

“For example, there was only one uncensored reference to the Prism system,” The Times wrote. “It was not clear why the Justice Department had redacted all the other references to Prism in the report; the name of that program and many details about it have been declassified and were discussed in a July 2014 report by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.”

PRISM came to light in June 2013 courtesy of whistleblower and former NSA contract worker Edward Snowden after he collected classified material to hand over to U.K. newspaper The Guardian and The Washington Post.


Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.