Yes, I know it's a boring title - and most of the new passed Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 is pretty dry stuff.
The bill provides $1 billion in funding over the next two years for intelligence agency programs. Buried in the 47-page bill as a last-minute addition, however, is language that specifically authorizes “the acquisition, retention, and dissemination” of private communications, including those made by U.S. citizens. It lends official congressional backing to a controversial Reagan-era executive order that authorized its collection under a claim of executive authority.
The communications, which are described as "incidentally acquired communication" (a serious misnomer) can be kept for five years, with three ways to stretch out the holding period if certain requirements are met. The three reasons to keep the data longer include a credible threat to human life, the need to satisfy technical assurance or compliance purposes, or a threat to national security. If invoked, these three extensions must be reported to Congress within varying time limits and with varying levels of detail.
Hat tip to Dave Ries.
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