released on Tuesday found that there has been a huge rise in the number of identities of U.S. persons revealed by the National Security Agency (NSA). While the process is known as "unmasking", the term "U.S. persons" takes into account not just the identities of citizens and permanent residents but also corporations, all of which were mentioned in intelligence reports. When the NSA distributes a report to other government agencies (e.g. the CIA or FBI), identities are blacked out or masked. In order to better understand the intelligence, agencies can ask the NSA to "unmask" them or lift the lid on their identities
In the 12 months from September 2015 to August 2016, the NSA granted 9,217 such requests, a number that increased slightly to 9,529 in 2017. The number rose noticeable last year by 75 percent, reaching 16,721. Alex Joel, who oversees civil liberties and transparency issues for the Director of National Intelligence, said that the increase could be as a result of aggressive attempts by foreign intelligence agencies and hackers to monitor or steal information from U.S. persons/companies that needed identification.
´The report also highlighted a steady increase in the number of foreigners targeted for warrantless surveillance. In 2017, there were 129,080 such targets and that went up to 164,770 last year. The number of phone records
collected by the NSA fell from 545.4 million in 2017 to 434.2 million last year.