BYLINE: Andrew HardingOctober 24, 2017 12:40:08A former NSA contractor who leaked details of massive spying programs has told the BBC he is “shocked” by the US laws that have been passed in recent years and “shook” by a bill passed in the Senate last week that would give the government sweeping new powers to collect vast amounts of personal data.
The National Security Agency (NSA) leaker who revealed his own role in the surveillance program has told BBC’s Andrew Harding he is now “shaking” after he was “stung” by what he believes is a “huge leap forward” by President Donald Trump.
He told the news channel he felt “shaken” and “surprised” by Trump’s announcement of his intention to renew the controversial Section 215 surveillance powers which allow the government to collect telephone records and other data from Americans without a warrant.
Section 215 was enacted in 2007 to enable the NSA to target foreign leaders in order to identify potential terrorists.
It allows the government, without a court order, to access the telephone metadata of US citizens without a judicial warrant.
But whistleblower Edward Snowden has told Harding he believed it would be unconstitutional to allow the NSA access to the data stored by US tech firms including Facebook and Google.
The bill, introduced by Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, would give a new “director of national intelligence” to oversee the use of the surveillance powers, and would give US authorities the ability to collect data on Americans without court orders.
“I’m very, very surprised that they have this legislation, I think it’s a huge leap forward,” Snowden told Harding.
“It seems like they’re really interested in trying to make it illegal to do anything.
It seems like this is not something that’s intended to protect us.”
Snowden told Harding the bills passed in Congress last week and the Senate bill he is co-sponsoring would be a major “turning point”.
He said: “It’s really shocking and I think we need to be very clear about that.
He said that he was shocked by Trump signing the legislation, which he described as “dangerous” and called “the worst piece of legislation that we’ve ever seen”.”
It does nothing for me, and I don’t want to be a part of it.”
He said that he was shocked by Trump signing the legislation, which he described as “dangerous” and called “the worst piece of legislation that we’ve ever seen”.
The US has become increasingly secretive and secretive laws have been used to justify spying on Americans.
The NSA’s surveillance programme is known as PRISM.
Mr Snowden’s revelations led to the resignation of the head of the NSA, General Keith Alexander, who said it was time to “stop hiding behind technical mumbo jumbo” and to reveal “the truth”.
He has since resigned from his post.
Mr Wyden said he believes there is a growing public awareness of the mass surveillance programs and the lack of oversight.
“The way we’re going is the opposite of what we want,” he said.
“This is not a situation where the public has been told about these programs.
We’re not just talking about a small number of people in our country.”