Obama Drops One Last Executive Order Giving The NSA Leeway To Share Unwarranted Surveillance Data On Americans

President Obama appears to be making the most out of his last few days in office. The Obama administration has just issued Executive Order 12333. The order will make it easier for the various intelligence agencies to access and share personal information about American citizens and people currently located in the United States.

Executive Order 12333 allows intelligence agencies, specifically the NSA, to “disseminate information to other appropriate IC (Intelligence Communities) elements for purposes of allowing the recipient element to determine whether the information is relevant to its responsibilities and can be retained by it.” The intelligence agencies can request information concerning a specific person or content-based information. Some of the data must immediately be destroyed, however, most of the information can be held for up to five years. The government hopes that this order will enable other agencies to spot dangers that the NSA fails to detect.

obama executive order

How is this order different from anything else we have seen in the United States? First, the NSA previously shared data with other agencies only after it had screened the information for unnecessary personal details. The NSA can now give out raw, unfiltered data. Second, agencies such as the FBI previously needed a warrant in order to obtain personal information from the NSA. Now domestic law enforcement agencies have access, without a warrant, to information that has been obtained for foreign intelligence purposes.

It is important to note that the NSA will not be giving out personal information like free candy. There is still a rigorous application process and applications can still be denied. The recipient can only use the information for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes, not domestic criminal cases. The recipients are also severely restricted in how they can disseminate the data.

nsa headquarters
NSA Headquarters

It is highly unlikely that the FBI or CIA will be banging on your door soon. Executive Order 12333, however, does expand the number of agencies that can access raw, personal data. For those concerned with privacy, the order may be viewed as a step backwards.