NSA ends controversial surveillance program that collected communications without a warrant
National Security Agency surveillance (Carsten Reisinger / Shutterstock.com)

The National Security Agency (NSA) announced suddenly on Friday that it would stop its surveillance program that collected emails and text messages between people talking overseas without a warrant.

The New York Times reported the warrantless wiretapping program has finally come to an end. Despite the assurances by security officials that the program is lawful, it didn't exactly seem like it would be all that helpful. Presumably, a targeted person engaged in activities linked to terrorism would know he was likely being surveilled and would take necessary precautions.

“This change ends a practice that allowed Americans’ communications to be collected without a warrant merely for mentioning a foreign target,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said. “For years I’ve repeatedly raised concerns that this amounted to an end-run around the Fourth Amendment. This transparency should be commended.”

The NSA was forced to make the change because it couldn't comply with rules decided by courts after a 2011 case that required Americans' privacy be protected. They inadvertently collected messages that were obtained domestically, officials said. The accidental surveillance resulted from bundled messages that internet service providers bundled whether it had a foreign target's email in the batch or not.