An Unclassified Statement about Where NSA’s Internet Dragnet Went

In a declaration submitted in EPIC’s FOIA for the PRTT dragnet data, NSA’s David Sherman tried to explain why NSA can’t reveal additional details of the domestic Internet dragnet shut down in 2011.

In an effort to explain why NSA can’t reveal the categories of content-as-metadata the NSA had been (illegally) collecting in the US, as well as why it can’t reveal all the types of electronic communications metadata it collects (ALL), he says the following.

While the bulk PR/TT electronic communications metadata program is no longer operational, NSA is authorized to acquire and collect certain categories of electronic communications metadata under other authorities (such as Executive Order 12333, as amended, and Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008). The continuing importance of the specific categories of Internet metadata that were collected under the bulk PR/TT program underscores the need to protect the still-classified operational details of this activity.


As noted above, while the  bulk PR/TT program is no longer operational, NSA’s core mission continues to include the acquisition and collection of electronic communications under other authorities.

That is, in a declaration reminding that NSA shut down its domestic bulk dragnet program, it admits it still conducts Internet metadata collection, and suggests it does so under EO 12333 and FAA.

Which is precisely where I’ve been suggesting it moved the program.

There are other aspects of this declaration that are interesting — especially when read in conjunction with DOJ National Security Division Mark Bradley’s declaration.

But for the moment, I’ll just leave it at this language, affirming NSA’s known continued collection of Internet metadata, even after shutting down the domestic Internet dragnet.