How many American citizens are targeted by the NSA? It’s a question that the agency refuses to answer, and today’s leak makes it seem like the agency targets just about everyone. The NSA needs to be transparent about its domestic operations, and one senator wants to make that happen.
The Hill reports that Sen. Al Franken announced on Wednesday that he plans to introduce legislation that would force the NSA to reveal how many Americans have been spied upon by the agency. It would also allow tech companies to publish aggregate figures detailing how many data requests they receive from government agencies.
What’s interesting about all of this is that Franken is a staunch supporter of the NSA surveillance programs revealed over the last month by Edward Snowden. Despite that, he does feel that there needs to be more transparency:
“The government has to give proper weight to both keeping America safe from terrorists and protecting Americans’ privacy. When everything about these programs is secret and when the companies involved are under strict gag orders, the American public has no way of knowing whether we’re getting that balance right. I think that’s bad for privacy and bad for democracy.”
Franken’s bill comes only a week after some House members tried to attach an amendment to the Defense spending bill that would have defunded the NSA’s phone call collection program. The amendment was narrowly defeated, and some feel that the narrow vote was a sign that many in Washington are finally coming around to the idea that it may not be such a super idea to classify everything related to the NSA. We can only hope that’s the case.