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Mon Nov 18, 2013 7:11AM
Hundreds of Americans protest NSA surveillance in Washington DC on October 26.

Hundreds of Americans protest NSA surveillance in Washington DC on October 26.

More American citizens than ever are asking the National Security Agency if it is spying on their personal lives. Following the outrageous revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the NSA is now facing a staggering number of inquiries with an increase of 988 percent, The USA Today reports. "This was the largest spike we've ever had," said Pamela Phillips, the chief of the NSA Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act Office, which handles all records requests to the agency. "We've had requests from individuals who want any records we have on their phone calls, their phone numbers, their e-mail addresses, their IP addresses, anything like that," Phillips noted. From October to December, the first quarter of the NSA fiscal year, the spying agency received 257 open-records requests and during the next quarter it received 241 requests. On June 6, which was the end of the NSA’s third fiscal year and when its confidential documents were disclosed, it received 1,302 requests. In following three months, about 2,538 people sent their requests to the NSA and this continued into the recent months. However, the inquirers are receiving a standard pre-written letter saying that the agency can neither confirm nor deny that any information has been collected. The USA Today cited Joel Watts, a health and safety administrator who sent an open-records request in June but three weeks later he received a letter saying that the NSA would not tell him if it had collected any information on him. "It's a sign of disrespect to American citizens and the democratic process," he said. "I should have the right to know if I'm being surveyed if there's no criminal procedures in process." Anne Weismann, chief counsel at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group, says, "People are legitimately troubled by the idea that the government is monitoring and collecting information about their e-mail traffic, phone calls and who knows what else." Weismann added that, "there is a growing sense of horror every time there is a new report about the data." AT/HJ
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