Not that it’s actually surprising to anyone, but the National Security Agency wants to be allowed to store data for even longer than it has been doing so far and that’s because of all the lawsuits.
There are so many lawsuits pending right now with the NSA as the target that the US government wants to be allowed to keep its records beyond the five-year limit.
“Based upon the issues raised by Plaintiffs in the above-referenced lawsuits and the Government’s potential defenses to those claims, the United States must ensure that all potentially relevant evidence is retained which includes the [business records] metadata obtained in bulk from certain telecommunications service providers pursuant to this Court’s production orders,” reads a court filing in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
So, the Government seeks an order to allow the NSA to retain the files “for non-analytic” purposes so they can be used in the lawsuits. “Based upon the claims raised and the relief sought, a more limited retention of the [business records] metadata is not possible as there is no way for the Government to know in advance and then segregate and retain only that [business records] metadata specifically relevant to the identified lawsuits,” the filing continues.
As mentioned, there are a lot of lawsuits attacking the bulk metadata collection program, where the NSA, Barack Obama and Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, are all being targeted.
In the case of Klayman vs. Obama, the judge has already ruled that the metadata program was unconstitutional and asked the government to shut it down. However, this can only happen if an appeal court agrees with the federal judge, which is still some distance away.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has already reacted to the government’s filing saying that it agrees that they are under an obligation to preserve evidence, but it’s a bit confusing they had to find out from the media about the FISC filing. Furthermore, the EFF classified the move as an effort to score PR points as the government tries to hold the privacy of all Americans hostage.
Another issue is that the filing was submitted with the rather-controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The issue with this secretive court is that it has not rejected any request made by the government agencies in the past few years, which questions the validity of any of its rulings.
Out of all the programs that were unveiled by the media in the past eight months based on Edward Snowden’s leaked files, the only one that got any attention from the US government has been the phone call metadata collection program, although many other spy tactics applied by the NSA affect many more people.