NSA Chief Defends Legality Of Facial Recognition Program

As you’ve probably heard, it was recently revealed that the National Security Agency has been scouring online images and using facial-recognition technology to track suspected terrorists, giving rise to justifiable concerns that the NSA has records of your every selfie, headshot, portrait, and drunken mugging. But the agency’s head is now attempting to do some damage control by saying that everything his people do is on the up-and-up.

“We do not do this in some unilateral basis against U.S. citizens,” explained NSA Chief Admiral Michael S. Rogers at the Bloomberg Government cybersecurity conference in D.C. earlier today. “We have very specific restrictions when it comes to U.S. persons.”

According to Rogers, when the NSA comes across an American citizen, it can not collect intelligence on that person without meeting legal criteria that he did not specify.

“In broad terms, we have to stop what we’re doing if we come to the realization that somebody we’re monitoring or tracking has a U.S/ connection that we were unaware of,” said the Admiral, who inherited the controversial agency when he took over in April. “We have to assess the situation, and if we think there is a legal basis for this, and we have to get the legal authority or justification.”

While the NSA program does attempt to gather information from networks of foreign governments, Rogers claims that it does not access motor vehicle or passport databases to examine images of U.S. citizens.

NSA Use of Facial Recognition Stays Within Legal Boundary [Bloomberg]

What the NSA can (and can’t) mine from intercepted photos [Ars Technica]

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