By the time the National Security Agency (NSA) nixed its email surveillance program in December 2011, other surveillance initiatives that could “satisfy certain foreign intelligence requirements” had taken its place, according to a report in The New York Times.
The Times caught wind of the alternative programs after obtaining documents through a Freedom of Information Act request. Included in the documents are inspector general reports that say the NSA ended the email program because it could meet requirements through other efforts—three other reasons for the program's demise were redacted. The Times report said while the agency no longer conducts the bulk collection data from telecom companies, under the replacement initiatives the NSA still analyzes the social links found in email patterns.
The NSA's inspector general report detailed two ways that the agency could (legally) get its hands on data—amassing bulk data collected in other countries and obtaining information on noncitizens living outside the U.S. without a warrant. The former can be done mostly without approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
The Times quoted American Civil Liberties Union Legislative Counsel Neema Singh Guliani as calling the reports “yet another piece of evidence demonstrating the need for more comprehensive surveillance reform.”