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NSA Transparency Hurts Americans’ Privacy, Feds Say With Straight Face

•, By David Kravets
 A subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning debated legislation that would force the government to release statistics on how many Americans have had their data scooped into various spy programs exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The legislation, proposed by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota), requires annual disclosure of the number of Americans whose information was collected, even if they were not the direct targets of the surveillance. The Surveillance Transparency Act would also allow internet companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and others to divulge the number of their users targeted under the programs.

The measure comes amid fierce debate over two other legislative proposals: one to legally strengthen the NSA’s snooping authority, and the other to dramatically reduce it.

Robert Litt, the general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and Bradford Wiegmann, deputy assistant attorney general, told the Committee on Privacy, Technology and the Law today that it would have a “privacy diminishing effect” if intelligence officials were forced to review every piece of data vacuumed up under its internet and phone surveillance programs.

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