NSA chief says agency not collecting people’s visual images

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. National Security Agency is not routinely collecting visual images of people in the U.S. or mining photographs taken for U.S. drivers’ licenses, the spy agency said on Tuesday.
Adm. Mike Rogers, who heads the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, acknowledged that the agency used facial recognition technology but said the aim was to deepen its knowledge of foreign intelligence targets and counterterrorrism targets.
However he gave no specifics.
Rogers insisted that the agency was not collecting such images of U.S. citizens, unless they were linked with an investigation of a foreign subject and then only after taking the appropriate legal steps.
“We do not do this on some unilateral basis against U.S. citizens
“We just do not decide, ‘Hey, today I am going to go after Citizen X, Y or Z.
“ We do not do that, we cannot legally do that,’’ he stressed.
He said that some people thought the NSA was combing through databases of photographs for U.S. drivers licences but said that was not the case.
Rogers, who moved into the top jobs at NSA and Cyber Command two months ago, has emphasised the need to better balance transparency about the government’s surveillance systems with privacy protections for U.S. citizens.
He said he watched clips of Snowden’s recent interview with NBC television and did not believe the former contractor was working for a foreign intelligence agency in spite of such suggestions by his predecessor, Keith Alexander, and U.S. lawmakers.
Rogers also warned against overhyping national security threats to justify expanding U.S. government powers.
“If we change who we are and what we believe and what we represent in the name of security, they have won. I have always believed that,’’ the NSA chief said. (Reuters/NAN)

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