According to a leading newspaper report, the National Security Agency has broken privacy rules many times.
On Thursday night, a news report in the Washington Post said that NSA had broken privacy rules and overstepped its legal bounds on thousands of occasions annually since it was granted by Congress its broad powers back in 2008.
An internal auditing of the NSA, which is based in Maryland, turned up close to 2,800 incidents in one year, according to the Washington Post report.
Most of the incidents are said to involve the unauthorized spying on foreign or American intelligence targets, inside the U.S.
Many incidents in the audit, the Post obtained had been connected to due diligence failures or the failure to follow SOP.
The report says that in one instance, NSA decided it needed to report it unintentionally took part in surveillance of U.S. citizens.
An example involved a mix-up where the area code of Washington, which is 202, had been mistaken for that of the telephone country code for Egypt, which is 20.
In other incidents, there was unauthorized use of information concerning over 3,000 U.S. citizens and legal residents, according to the report by the Post.
The newspaper’s report was based on the documents Edward Snowden had provided it earlier this summer.
The NSA, in a statement sent to the Post said it attempts to identify problems at the quickest moment, implement measures of mitigation when possible and then drive the numbers down.
However, the statement said, being an agency run by humans in an environment that is complex with many different regulatory regimes, at times we end up on the wrong side of the line.