The National Security Agency (NSA) is in the process of deleting hundreds of millions of phone records that were acquired since 2015, saying “irregularities” caused the agency to collect unauthorized call records.
In a statement released on June 28, the agency said that they began deleting the call records (CDRs) on May 23 to stay consistent with their core values of respect for the law, accountability, integrity, and transparency. The records were obtained under Title V of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
“NSA is deleting the CDRs because several months ago, NSA analysts noted technical irregularities in some data received from telecommunications service providers,” the agency said. “These irregularities also resulted in the production to NSA of some CDRs that NSA was not authorized to receive.”
According to The Associated Press, the agency is deleting more than 685 million call records collected by U.S. telecom companies.
The NSA said they were unable to properly identify and isolate the call data, later concluding that they should not use any of the CDRs at all.
“Consequently, NSA, in consultation with the Department of Justice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, decided that the appropriate course of action was to delete all CDRs,” the agency stated.
David Kris, a former top national security official at the Justice Department during the Obama administration, told The New York Times that the agency’s announcement represents a “failure” of the Obama administration to properly implement the USA Freedom Act, a surveillance law passed in 2015 that was meant to allow for better transparency and improve information sharing.
NSA spokesman Christopher Augustine disagreed with the claim that the program had failed.
“This is a case in which NSA determined that there was a problem and proactively took all the right steps to fix it,” he told the Associated Press.
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