More People Can Access Your Information than Ever Before

More People Can Access Your Information than Ever Before

This is what we know: A last minute executive order (EO) left your private information exposed to not one, but 17 intelligence agencies. Was this policy designed to allow more eyes to access the data in order to avoid missing important clues that could protect the country? Or, was it something done to undermine Trump and multiply the potential for leaked information?
Eighteen days before former President Barack Obama left office, the National Security Agency (NSA) was the only U.S. intelligence service allowed to access raw, unfiltered, globally intercepted personal communications. A day later, just 17 days before Obama left office, an additional 16 intelligence agencies were given the same access as the NSA.
Let’s say you made an international phone call or sent an email to a friend or family member. As part of a larger intelligence sweep, and completely unbeknownst to you, information was gathered about your phone call or email. Prior to Jan. 3, 2017, that information could only be viewed by the NSA. The NSA would then apply “privacy protections” to remove your identifying information and make redactions. Then, that filtered information would become available to the other intelligence agencies.
However, if your phone call or email was intercepted on Jan. 4, 2017, or later, the raw, unfiltered data — with no privacy protection — could be accessed not only by the NSA, but also to 16 other intelligence agencies. The stated intent of the EO was to increase the number of eyes viewing surveillance data, thereby reducing the chances that the NSA might let something fall through the cracks.
Jay Sekulow, American attorney and Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law & Justice, said what’s most significant about this EO was not THAT it was issued, but WHEN it was issued. It was signed on Jan. 3. This date just happened to fall between the time President Donald Trump was elected president and Obama’s last day in office.
Sekulow has submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to find out why such a substantive policy change was made by the Obama administration within just a few days of Obama leaving office. Sekulow believes it was a deliberate attempt to generate leaks from the intelligence community, which ultimately brought down Michael Flynn, President Trump’s pick for national security advisor.
The truth of the matter is that Americans are already tired of having their privacy invaded, without letting it be exposed to even more agencies than it was. But, Michael Flynn was tasked with providing information to keep our country secure. He failed to do that, and admits to it, having omitted certain information in his conversations with the vice-president. So, while there very well may be “shadow government” intentions, it just so happens that leaked information has a history of exposing corruption in our government.
What does this mean for you? It could mean that it’s easier to find potential terrorists or other threats against our country before they become a real danger. But, it also means that American citizens need to be careful not to provide information that could accidentally put them in the crosshairs of government agencies or entities who might hack government agencies.