Thanks, Obama

I’m sure that’s what Trump’s administration said as Obama’s administration expanded its power:

WASHINGTON — In its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.


Previously, the N.S.A. filtered information before sharing intercepted communications with another agency, like the C.I.A. or the intelligence branches of the F.B.I. and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The N.S.A.’s analysts passed on only information they deemed pertinent, screening out the identities of innocent people and irrelevant personal information.

Now, other intelligence agencies will be able to search directly through raw repositories of communications intercepted by the N.S.A. and then apply such rules for “minimizing” privacy intrusions.

I’m sure the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) are going to have a field day with it.

Initially the National Security Agency (NSA) was tasked with surveilling foreign entities but not domestic entities. That mandate changed over time. Thanks to Edward Snowden, we know that the NSA is now surveilling people domestically. However, the agency itself has no enforcement powers. But the FBI and DEA do! And that’s why this rule change should be concerning.

There’s a world of difference between having access to filtered data and raw data. Presumably, the NSA’s goons were feeding other intelligence agencies data that it thought was pertinent to its mission. Even if the NSA was feeding other intelligence agencies more than that it still had access to limited manpower, which meant the amount of data it was handing over was necessarily limited. With access to the raw data agencies like the FBI and DEA can now comb through it for their purposes. There will be more eyes looking at the data and those eyes won’t be restricted to what the NSA considers important.

We know that the NSA surveils domestic Internet and phone communications. Since so many illegal transactions (not criminal, since a vast majority of these transactions don’t involve victims) take place over the Internet or through phone calls the FBI and DEA now have access to data that gives them a potentially rich target environment. Even if agencies like the FBI and DEA are legally restricted from using data acquired by the NSA to prosecute domestic individuals the law enforcement community has already created a workaround to such limitations.

When Obama took office his administration was given control of the vast surveillance apparatus that Bush’s administration had expanded. Under his tenure as president those apparatuses expanded further. Now Trump’s administration is receiving control of that expanded surveillance apparatus. To all of the people who didn’t give a shit about those expanding powers under Obama but are now flipping out about Trump having those powers, this is why us libertarians are against expanding the State’s powers. You never know who will be given those powers after your guy leaves office.