Civil liberties groups are particularly interested in the number of so-called “unique identifiers” recorded by the NSA…

Trump Admin Pressed for Why 534 Million Calls Were Tracked by NSA Last Year

(The Hill) Two-dozen civil liberties organizations are urging U.S. officials to disclose more details on the more than 500 million call records collected on Americans by the National Security Agency (NSA) last year.

The organizations, which include the American Civil Liberties Union and digital rights group Access Now, say that the information is crucial to determining whether the government is overstepping its authority.

The letters, sent Thursday to the Office of Director of National Intelligence and to the House Judiciary Committee, come following the publication of a transparency report that revealed the spy agency collected 534 million call detail records in 2017, a substantial increase over the previous year.

These records are obtained from U.S. telecommunications providers and include the number and time and duration of phone contacts, not the content of the calls themselves.

The civil liberties groups are particularly interested in the number of so-called “unique identifiers,” or unique accounts, devices, or individuals, swept up in the NSA’s call detail record program.

** MORE NSA COVERAGE at Liberty Headlines **

The annual report is mandated by the USA Freedom Act passed by Congress in 2015 that aimed to place limits over the spy agency’s surveillance program, following the Edward Snowden disclosures. While the law directs the intelligence community to report the number of unique identifiers, officials have said that they do not possess the technical ability to do so.

“Obtaining this data is particularly important given that the number of call detail records collected under Section 215 has surged to over 540 million in 2017 — more than triple what was reported for 2016,” the ACLU and other groups wrote to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats

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