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Blog   |   USA

Secrecy, scale of PRISM raise alarms

President Barack Obama defends NSA surveillance activities. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

Government surveillance of electronic communications "should be regarded as a highly intrusive act that potentially interferes with the rights to freedom of expression and privacy and threatens the foundations of a democratic society," Frank La Rue, U.N. special rapporteur for freedom of expression, warned in a report issued less than two months ago. "States should be completely transparent about the use and scope of communications surveillance techniques and powers." At the time, the report might have called to mind nations such as China and Iran with high levels of state surveillance. But today, following revelations of a broad, secret digital surveillance program led by the U.S. National Security Agency, La Rue's words seem instead to have been a prescient rebuke of U.S. policies. 

June 7, 2013 7:19 AM ET

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