A BIPARTISAN GROUP of lawmakers is none too happy that the executive branch is asking them to reauthorize two key surveillance programs next year without answering the single most important question about them.
The programs, authorized under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, are called PRISM and Upstream. PRISM collects hundreds of millions of internet communications of “targeted individuals” from providers such as Facebook, Yahoo and Skype. Upstream takes communications straight from the major U.S. Internet backbones run by telecommunication companies such as AT&T and Verizon and harvests data that involves selectors related to foreign targets.
But both programs, though nominally targeted at foreigners overseas, inevitably sweep us massive amounts of data involving innocent Americans.
The question is: How much? The government won’t answer.
Fourteen members of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper on Friday asking for at least a rough estimate.