NSA posts opening for privacy officer

The National Security Agency has posted a job opening for a privacy and civil liberties officer.

The position was first mentioned last month, when President Obama outlined his plans to bring more transparency to the NSA surveillance programs. A White House press release said the agency was “taking steps to put in place a full time Civil Liberties and Privacy Officer.”

The person in the “completely new role” will “serve as the primary advisor to the Director of NSA for ensuring that privacy is protected and civil liberties are maintained by all of NSA's missions, programs, policies and technologies,” according to the posting.

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“This new position is focused on the future, designed to directly enhance decision making and to ensure that [civil liberties and privacy] protections continue to be baked into NSA's future operations, technologies, tradecraft, and policies.”

Some worry that the creation of this role may not actually advance protections for privacy and civil liberties at the NSA.

“While, in theory, a Privacy Officer should serve as an oversight mechanism, in practice the role is often responsible for providing a justification for invasive surveillance programs,” said Amie Stepanovich, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s Domestic Surveillance Project.

“NSA's Privacy Officer should be given sufficient independence from the agency in order to operate effectively, and should be built around principles of public transparency and accountability,” Stepanovich said.