The NSA is increasing its mass surveillance activities, following the passage of the US Freedom Bill of 2015 into law, the US Freedom Act of 2015. Observers are of the opinion that although the passage of the new law was supposed to protect the rights and privileges of individuals in the wake of multiple threats from cyber criminals and apprehensive governments, it has, in reality, ushered in an era in which the NSA, with little effort, can carry out mass surveillance programs.
And now, it appears that the NSA has been taking advantage of the new law to step up its surveillance activities against individuals.
But what is likely to be of concern to many is the manner in which the NSA is taking advantage of the new law to carry out what many believe that the new law was supposed to prevent them from doing. For example, the NSA is now enjoying access to a bigger and better trove of personal information than what it had access to during those days when it used to maintain its database.
The new law prohibits the NSA from maintaining a database but gives it access to the databases maintained by independent players in the industry. It does not matter that the NSA needs to get a court order before accessing the databases, what is important to note is that once it gets a court order, the NSA can access many databases that exceed what it used to maintain.
Therefore, by transferring the work of maintaining databases from the NSA to industry players, the new law has, in effect, granted the NSA more access to large databases.
Besides, the new law forbids the NSA from keeping tabs on individuals. The NSA cannot keep logs or try to spy on people unless it gets a court order allowing it to do so. Now, companies have to maintain the metadata of the activities of their clients and, most importantly, provide the data to the NSA when a need arises. Therefore, it can be seen that the NSA has been freed from the trouble of keeping logs but has been given access to any logs it may be interested in, subject to obtaining a court order.