The National Security Agency appears to have removed from its website a two-page "fact sheet" describing the government's use of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act as it applies to Internet snooping programs. On Monday Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Mark Udall, D-Colo., accused the NSA of providing Americans with false information about civil liberties protections in the document.
The NSA document said communications involving an American are "promptly destroyed" and that "dissemination of any information about U.S. persons is expressly prohibited" except under certain circumstances.
A URL previously hosting the document on NSA's website is now dead. "Error Notice" a message says, "It seems you have experienced an error." Cached versions of the web page - captured by web.archive.org and by Google - show the document on the web page.
It's unclear if the NSA plans to issue a new fact sheet following the critique by senators. The NSA's public affairs office did not immediately provide comment to U.S. News on why the document does not appear anymore on the NSA website.
"We were disappointed to see that this fact sheet contains an inaccurate statement about how the section 702 authority has been interpreted by the U.S. government," Wyden and Udall, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, wrote in their Monday letter. "In our judgment this inaccuracy is significant, as it portrays protections for Americans' privacy as being significantly stronger than they actually are. We have identified this inaccurate statement in the classified attachment to this letter.
"We urge you to correct this statement as soon as possible," the senators wrote. "As you have seen, when the NSA makes inaccurate statements about government surveillance and fails to correct the public record, it can decrease public confidence in the NSA's openness and its commitment to protecting Americans' constitutional rights. Rebuilding this confidence will require a willingness to correct misstatements and a willingness to make reforms where appropriate."
The senators declined to specify the alleged inaccuracy, citing the highly classified nature of the surveillance programs.
The original NSA-released fact sheet:
The Wyden-Udall letter to the NSA: