The National Security Agency has reportedly implemented a new rule requiring that at least two people be present when accessing top secret documents.
Would-be whistle-blowers would now presumably need to work in a two-person team, a less likely scenario in the eyes of NSA leaders, Gen. Keith B. Alexander said Thursday at the Aspen Security Forum.
"This makes our job more difficult," Alexander said, according to The New York Times.
Future plans to guard NSA systems against leaks include better encryption of documents and a reduction in the number of people with access to highly sensitive material.
In June, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden began releasing documents to newspapers that exposed massive domestic and international surveillance by the agency. He downloaded the documents in Hawaii, where he worked at Booz Allen Hamilton, then flew to Hong Kong to begin the document dump.
Alexander testified at a House Intelligence Committee hearing June 18 that approximately 1,000 people work as NSA systems administrators – the job Snowden held for three months – and said the two-person rule was under development.
Fewer people have access to the Internet and phone-record data collected with classified programs, Alexander claimed in June, but Snowden says he had real-time access to surveillance data.
Alexander defended the highly controversial programs Thursday, the Times reports. "You need a haystack to find a needle," he said, explaining why it was necessary to collect the phone records of all Americans. Several pending lawsuits allege the government violated Americans' First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights when it used secret court orders to procure the records.