IT Reshoring News

December 17, 2015

The NSA Still Collects Your Emails (They Just Do It Offshore Now)

We were told the FISC court ordered the NSA to stop collecting American emails. They did, within U.S. borders - by moving the operation offshore. Is this acceptable, even in light of the recent tragedies worldwide?

In October 2011, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) Judge John Bates ruled that the NSA’s collection of domestic emails was illegal. He placed restrictions on the NSA’s efforts, forcing them to stop vacuuming up emails.

Or so we thought.

File Says N.S.A. Found Way to Replace Email Program – The New York Times

Documents: The Domestic Email Collection Program The NSA 'Killed' In 2011 Was Actually Just Offshored - TechDirt

Turns out the NSA circumvented the ruling – and the privacy of every American – in less than 2 months. A released document by the New York Times found that the NSA moved the email collection program offshore. And simply continued business as usual.

How does this work? There are two parts to the explanation.

  1. Domestic data often travels through fiber optic cables laid worldwide. It is technically legal to capture & analyze bulk data gathered from these offshore cables.
  2. Operations outside of U.S. borders are not subject to oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

When the NSA said it had shut down its domestic email surveillance program, it did tell the truth. However, it conveniently left out the fact that it still siphoned in plenty of data from overseas. The documents do indicate that the email data is "less valuable relative to its expense and trouble."

What's your opinion on the NSA collecting your personal communications data without a warrant? Given recent tragic events (and our deepest sympathies to all those affected), we wanted to ask what you think about the NSA’s practices. Privacy at all costs? Or, are you willing to allow data collection if it’s proven to keep us safer?

Please email us at, or tweet your thoughts at @PlanetMagpieIT on Twitter.