The National Security Agency (NSA) has reportedly asked the White House to drop its phone surveillance program that gathers information on millions of Americans’ calls and texts, revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013.
According to a Wall Street Journal report published on Wednesday, agency insiders say the logistical and legal headaches of keeping the program operational outweigh its intelligence benefits.
“The candle is not worth the flame,” one agency source told the Journal.
The phone snooping program began in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and operated secretly until NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed its existence to the public in 2013. Under the program, the NSA warrantlessly collected the ‘metadata’ of billions of phone calls and text messages per day, under the auspices of tracking links between terrorism suspects.
Despite the outcry that followed Snowden’s revelations, the program continued, albeit in limited form since the passing of the USA Freedom Act in 2015. Since the act’s passing, the NSA has been pared back to collecting a few hundred million records per year, which are stored by telecommunication companies.
Snowden himself greeted the news in snarky fashion. “First they laugh at you, then they fight you, then... they admit you were right all along and maybe shouldn't have been violating everyone's rights in the first place?” he tweeted.
First they laugh at you, then they fight you, then... they admit you were right all along and maybe shouldn't have been violating everyone's rights in the first place? https://t.co/Q0acQCEf6s
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) April 25, 2019
Read more: NSA wants to drop mass surveillance program revealed by Snowden – report