The NSA’s “Civil Liberties and Privacy Director” Rebecca Richards did a Tumblr Q&A Monday, answering a number of questions about her job and the agency’s privacy practices.
Someone cut right to the chase and asked what we were all thinking: “Is ‘NSA Civil Liberties and Privacy Director’ a real position or is this all a joke?”
“Yes I am a real person and this is a real job,” Richards replied, followed by a smiley face. “My job is to lead the integration of civil liberties and privacy protections across the NSA and strengthen transparency.”
She added that the president created her job in an effort to “reform” the agency, and she has worked at the NSA since February 2014.
Many of the questions demanded to know more about the NSA’s justification for its intrusion into the lives and data of American citizens. Richards’ responses to these questions emphasized the agency’s “robust” checks by “highly trained analysts and compliance personnel,” the “limited cases of intentional misuse” reported in the agency, and its “extensive” oversight regime.
“Are our fears of being discreetly spied on merited?” asked one user. “Should we have cause for concern?”
“No,” Richards responded. “The President answered this question in his address to the nation in January 2014. NSA employees, he said, ‘are not abusing authorities in order to listen to your private phone calls or read your emails.’”
When another user asked Richards if she considers Edward Snowden a traitor, she declined to say, but accused him of endangering intelligence capabilities.
“We know that U.S. intelligence capabilities, activities and methods from a wide range of sources have been compromised,” she said. “Our people overseas in dangerous places and at home are at greater risk because it is now harder to see foreign threats.”
And if you’re a young person who loves justifying spying on American citizens, exciting news! The NSA is working on a privacy and civil liberties internship program, Richards announced.
(h/t The Hill)