University at Buffalo - The State University of New York
Skip to Content
The List - One year, hundreds of stories. 2014-15 Progress Report.

NSA expands Internet spying that poses “serious threat to American civil liberties,” UB expert says

Release Date: June 4, 2015

“Despite the recent revelations about the expanded NSA program, we still don’t know exactly how and why someone may become a target of the program.”
Mark Bartholomew, associate professor of law
University at Buffalo
Download High-Res Image:

Expansion of the National Security Agency's surveillance of Americans' international Internet traffic is troubling, says Mark Bartholomew.

BUFFALO, N.Y. – There is no arguing the fact that hacking is a serious national security issue, says Mark Bartholomew, University at Buffalo associate professor of law, but expansion of the National Security Agency’s surveillance of Americans’ international Internet traffic is troubling for two reasons.

“First, there is an intentional lack of transparency,” said Bartholomew, whose research focuses on cyber law and cybersecurity. “Despite the recent revelations about the expanded NSA program, we still don’t know exactly how and why someone may become a target of the program.”

Even in the middle of an increased public awareness, and resistance to government surveillance, Bartholomew said, this warrantless program was expanded without public notice or debate.

Most likely, the government decided to conduct this type of surveillance without a warrant because that request must be reasonable and specific, usually targeting a particular defined group or individual, he said.

It also seems like this surveillance program is more broad, looking for patterns across a wide variety of digital chatter, he added.

“Another potential for programs like this is that it can become a back-door method of policing against garden-variety criminal offenses,” he said. “Without a clear line preventing the data obtained from monitoring international cyberthreats from being used to prosecute unrelated offenses, this kind of surveillance creep poses a serious threat to American civil liberties.”

To find UB faculty experts on other topics — including issues trending in the news — visit UB’s Faculty Experts website.

Media Contact Information

Rachel Stern no longer works for University Communications. To contact UB's media relations staff, call 716-645-6969 or visit our list of current university media contacts. Sorry for the inconvenience.