The National Security Agency wants to dramatically increase its ability to spy on the Internet, a document the agency wrote last year says.
In a mission statement created in February 2012, the NSA laid out a four-year goal to "aggressively pursue legal authorities and a policy framework mapped more fully to the information age," The New York Times reported Friday.
The document was among thousands released by former NSA contractor and secrets leaker Edward Snowden, who was granted temporary asylum in Russia.
The paper says current laws and regulations "have not kept pace with the complexity of the technology and target environments, or the operational expectations levied on NSA's mission."
The agency says its ambition is to be able to defeat the computer security practices of adversaries in order to collect information from "anyone, anytime, anywhere."
It adds it wants to be able to defeat commercial encryption "through commercial relationships," spies and intelligence partners in other countries.
The mission statement does not specify what legal or policy changes the NSA wants made. However, the paper says the agency wants to "dramatically increase mastery of the global network."
Responding to questions about the document, senior NSA officials said current rules limit the agency's ability to conduct surveillance against terrorism suspects within the United States.
"N.S.A.'s Sigint [signals intelligence] strategy is designed to guide investments in future capabilities and close gaps in current capabilities," the agency said in a statement. "In an ever-changing technology and telecommunications environment, NSA tries to get in front of issues to better fulfill the foreign-intelligence requirements of the U.S. government."
Since the document was written, revelations contained in documents released by Snowden have incited calls from Congress to trim, rather than expand, the agency's cyber-surveillance powers. Foreign leaders have complained of apparently unrestrained NSA surveillance overseas, even in allied countries. NSA director Gen. Keith B. Alexander has announced plans to retire.
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Original headline: Paper reveals NSA goal to gain 'mastery' of cyber-intelligence
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