Reports on U.S. surveillance of Americans fuel debate over privacy, security

The debate over whether the U.S. government is violating citizens’ privacy rights while trying to protect them from terrorism escalated dramatically on Thursday amid reports that authorities have collected data on millions of phone users and tapped into servers at nine internet companies.The White House spent much of the day defending the National Security Agency’s secret collection of telephone records from millions of Americans as a “critical tool” for preventing attacks, as critics called the programme – first reported by Britain’s Guardian newspaper – a heavy-handed move that raised new questions about the extent of the U.S. government’s spying on its citizens. see:U.S. intelligence chief says surveillance targets non-U.S. citizens
U.S. intelligence chief James Clapper said on Thursday the law that allows American government agencies to collect communications from internet companies only permits the targeting of “non-U.S. persons” outside the United States.Responding to articles published by the Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper, Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said in a statement that the stories contained “numerous inaccuracies,” but he did not offer any details. agents tapping servers of leading Internet companies – report
The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, allowing investigators to examine e-mails, photos and other documents that can be used to track people and their contacts over time, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.The highly classified anti-terrorism program, code-named PRISM, had not been disclosed publicly before. A U.S. government source who was not authorized to comment publicly on the program confirmed its existence to Reuters late on Thursday.

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