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About NSA's Civil Liberties and Privacy Office

Why did NSA create a Civil Liberties and Privacy Office?

In August 2013, in a statement about reforms to NSA's foreign intelligence programs, President Obama announced several initiatives to give the public greater confidence in the oversight of these programs. The creation of a full-time Civil Liberties and Privacy Officer at NSA was among the reforms cited.

The NSA Civil Liberties and Privacy Office was created to help the Agency advance national security while protecting the freedoms, civil liberties, and privacy rights guaranteed by the Constitution and federal law. Several of the functions performed by the NSA Civil Liberties and Privacy Office already existed within NSA. This change brought various responsibilities together under a single office to ensure that privacy and civil liberties considerations remain a vital driver for NSA strategic decisions, particularly in the areas of technology and processes.

Who are we?

The Director of Civil Liberties and Privacy is the primary advisor on protection of civil liberties and privacy to NSA's Director and his leadership team.

The Director of Civil Liberties and Privacy represents NSA's interests in the privacy arena by engaging with key stakeholders, overseers, the private sector, and the general public to better understand their concerns.

The Director of Civil Liberties and Privacy is the lead for promoting and integrating civil liberties and privacy protections into NSA policies, plans, procedures, technology, programs and activities. As rules and oversight evolve over time, having a single official who is dedicated to these issues helps NSA stay on top of changes and bring new perspectives on how best to consider civil liberties and privacy while conducting mission work.

What do we do?

The Civil Liberties and Privacy Office advises the NSA Director on how best to ensure that senior leaders consider civil liberties and privacy protection requirements when making strategic decisions about operations, tradecraft, technology, policy, and resources.

The Civil Liberties and Privacy Office carries out its mission to ensure protection of civil liberties and privacy at NSA by pursuing five major goals:

  1. Advise leadership - Independently advise the DIRNSA and other senior leaders on civil liberties and privacy issues to inform strategic decisions.
  2. Build and maintain a meaningful and integrated civil liberties and privacy framework - Build a systematic and holistic civil liberties and privacy framework that is fully integrated in Agency processes and procedures governing mission planning and operations. This includes developing a civil liberties and privacy assessment process that is embedded as a foundational element to support NSA activities.
  3. Increase appropriate and meaningful transparency - Enable a greater understanding of NSA missions, plans, programs, and operations by Executive and Legislative Branch oversight organizations and by the public. Implement the ODNI Intelligence Community Transparency Principles while working with NSA mission elements to ensure the protection of sources and methods.
  4. Develop and maintain a civil liberties and privacy-aware workforce - Promote and share the Civil Liberties and Privacy Office's mission, vision, goals, and services in a manner that increases the workforce's understanding of what we do and thereby helps us operate more effectively.
  5. Leverage technology and best-practice analysis - Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of civil liberties and privacy protection activities through research, technology, and best-practice analysis and implementation.

What laws and policies guide NSA's mission and the Civil Liberties and Privacy Office?