via The Wall Street Journal...
In a rare act of transparency, the Central Intelligence Agency for the first time has published a fully declassified version of its procedures for handling information on “U.S. persons,” a category that includes American citizens in the country or overseas.
The new guidelines, which were published in full on the agency’s website on Wednesday, are meant to address the fact that large amounts of communications and other data are collected when spying on foreigners. The previous guidelines date to 1982 and had been updated through a patchwork of policies, but hadn’t been overhauled for the digital age, CIA officials said.
In the past, intelligence officers could promptly review reports that might contain references to U.S. persons or the contents of their communications, and then decide how to handle that information in line with privacy rules. But today, it’s not always feasible to do that in short order because the CIA is collecting information in far larger volumes. A digital storage device, for instance, can hold thousands of pages of material, which a CIA officer has to review.
The new guidelines require the CIA to purge any especially sensitive information it has stored after five years if it hasn’t been evaluated to see if it contains information about U.S. persons. Such sensitive information includes the contents of any communications, officials said. Information that’s deemed less sensitive, like the business records of a foreign company that aren’t expected to contain information about U.S. persons, must be purged after 25 years if it hasn’t been evaluated. more