An independent panel has essentially absolved the NSA of any wrongdoing in its data collection program, concluding its actions were "legal and effective."
As Eyder Peralta writes, this panel didn't focus on the telephone metadata program, which President Obama proposed ending back in March:
Instead, this report focuses on the bulk collection of Internet data. The big difference is that the telephone metadata program targets Americans, whereas this program targets foreigners, but casts such a wide net that domestic communications are often collected."
The panel ruled that while the NSA's actions were intrusive, it also concluded that the program "has played a key role in discovering and disrupting specific terrorist plots aimed at the United States and other countries." As Spencer Ackerman points out, this pronouncement endorses a "central NSA claim since Edward Snowden leaked information revealing the scope of the surveillance agency's powers."
The Electronic Frontiers Foundation didn't take too kindly to the report, calling it "legally flawed and factually incomplete":
Hiding behind the “complexity” of the technology, it gives short shrift to the very serious privacy concerns that the surveillance has rightly raised for millions of Americans. The board also deferred considering whether the surveillance infringed the privacy of many millions more foreigners abroad."
The panel didn't consider the government snooping on "the content of millions of emails, social networking posts, and other Internet communications," which the EFF said happened before the panel's analysis even began.