Obama just made it easier for Trump to use NSA data against Americans

With just over a week left until Inauguration Day, the Obama administration has alarmed privacy advocates by significantly weakening rules that prevent the troves of raw data collected about American citizens by the National Security Agency's dragnet surveillance programs from being shared by other U.S. agencies.

The changes will allow the incoming Trump administration to more easily use the spy agency's unfiltered foreign intelligence data against American citizens, encouraging intelligence analysts to send anything thought to be evidence of a domestic crime to the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, and others.

Related: President Obama's final farewell address

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President Obama's final farewell address

U.S. President Barack Obama wipes away tears as he delivers his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. January 10, 2017.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

U.S. President Barack Obama is joined onstage by Vice President Joe Biden after his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. January 10, 2017.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

U.S. President Barack Obama hugs his wife Michelle as Vice-President Joe Biden and his wife Jill look on after the President delivered a farewell address at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. January 10, 2017.

(REUTERS/John Gress)

US President Barack Obama gestures before speaking during his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois on January 10, 2017. Barack Obama closes the book on his presidency, with a farewell speech in Chicago that will try to lift supporters shaken by Donald Trump's shock election.

(JOSHUA LOTT/AFP/Getty Images)

US first lady Michelle Obama holds her daughter Malia as US President Barack Obama speaks during his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois on January 10, 2017. Barack Obama closes the book on his presidency, with a farewell speech in Chicago that will try to lift supporters shaken by Donald Trump's shock election.

(NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama arrives for his farewell address at McCormick Place in Chicago on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.

(Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)

U.S. President Barack Obama acknowledges the crowd as he arrives to deliver his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., January 10, 2017.

(REUTERS/John Gress)

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L-R), his wife Jill Biden, first lady Michelle Obama and her daughter Malia Obama stand for the national anthem before President Barack Obama delivers his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. January 10, 2017.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Supporters listen as US President Barack Obama speaks during his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois on January 10, 2017. Barack Obama closes the book on his presidency, with a farewell speech in Chicago that will try to lift supporters shaken by Donald Trump's shock election.

(JOSHUA LOTT/AFP/Getty Images)

US First Lady Michelle Obama, daughter Malia, and US President Barack Obama hug after the President delivered his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois on January 10, 2017. Barack Obama closes the book on his presidency, with a farewell speech in Chicago that will try to lift supporters shaken by Donald Trump's shock election.

(NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., January 10, 2017.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Supporters attend President Barack Obama's farewell address in Chicago, Illinois on January 10, 2017. Barack Obama closes the book on his presidency, with a farewell speech in Chicago that will try to lift supporters shaken by Donald Trump's shock election. / AFP / Joshua LOTT (Photo credit should read JOSHUA LOTT/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama speaks during his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois on January 10, 2017. Barack Obama closes the book on his presidency, with a farewell speech in Chicago that will try to lift supporters shaken by Donald Trump's shock election.

(JOSHUA LOTT/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden points at a photographer before a farewell address by President Barack Obama, not pictured, in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. Obama blasted 'zero-sum' politics as he drew a sharp contrast with his successor in his farewell address Tuesday night, acknowledging that despite his historic election eight years ago his vision for the country will exit the White House with him.

(Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Supporters attend President Barack Obama's farewell address in Chicago, Illinois on January 10, 2017. Barack Obama closes the book on his presidency, with a farewell speech in Chicago that will try to lift supporters shaken by Donald Trump's shock election.

(JOSHUA LOTT/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama speaks during his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois on January 10, 2017. Barack Obama closes the book on his presidency, with a farewell speech in Chicago that will try to lift supporters shaken by Donald Trump's shock election. / AFP / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

President Obama is joined by Michelle and Malia after his farewell address at McCormick Place in Chicago on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.

(Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)

Music artist Eddie Vedder preforms before US President Barack Obama gives his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois on January 10, 2017. Barack Obama closes the book on his presidency, with a farewell speech in Chicago that will try to lift supporters shaken by Donald Trump's shock election.

(JOSHUA LOTT/AFP/Getty Images)

US First Lady Michelle Obama, daughter Malia, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden wait for President Barack Obama to deliver his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois on January 10, 2017. Barack Obama closes the book on his presidency, with a farewell speech in Chicago that will try to lift supporters shaken by Donald Trump's shock election.

(NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 10: President Barack Obama delivers a farewell speech to the nation on January 10, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. President-elect Donald Trump will be sworn in the as the 45th president on January 20. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

US First Lady Michelle Obama hugs daughter Malia after US President Barack Obama delivered his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois on January 10, 2017. Barack Obama closes the book on his presidency, with a farewell speech in Chicago that will try to lift supporters shaken by Donald Trump's shock election.

(NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Supporters attend President Barack Obama's farewell address in Chicago, Illinois on January 10, 2017. Barack Obama closes the book on his presidency, with a farewell speech in Chicago that will try to lift supporters shaken by Donald Trump's shock election.

(JOSHUA LOTT/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and her daughter Malia embrace as President Barack Obama praises them during his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. January 10, 2017.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Guests listens as President Barack Obama delivers a farewell speech to the nation on January 10, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. President-elect Donald Trump will be sworn in the as the 45th president on January 20.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama speaks during his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois on January 10, 2017. Barack Obama closes the book on his presidency, with a farewell speech in Chicago that will try to lift supporters shaken by Donald Trump's shock election.

(JOSHUA LOTT/AFP/Getty Images)

The Reverend Jesse Jackson, US civil rights activist, Baptist minister, and politician waits for US President Barack Obama to give his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois on January 10, 2017. Barack Obama closes the book on his presidency, with a farewell speech in Chicago that will try to lift supporters shaken by Donald Trump's shock election.

(NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

The Chicago Children's Choir perform before the start of the farewell address by U.S. President Barack Obama, not pictured, in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. Obama will draw an implicit contrast with his successor in his farewell address, acknowledging that despite his historic election eight years ago his vision for the country will exit the White House with him.

(Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

U.S. President Barack Obama, his wife Michelle, their daughter Malia, Vice-President Joe Biden and his wife Jill acknowledge the crowd after President Obama delivered a farewell address at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. January 10, 2017.

(REUTERS/John Gress)

US President Barack Obama speaks during his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois on January 10, 2017. Barack Obama closes the book on his presidency, with a farewell speech in Chicago that will try to lift supporters shaken by Donald Trump's shock election.

(JOSHUA LOTT/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. President Barack Obama is joined onstage by first lady Michelle Obama and daughter Malia, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden, after his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. January 10, 2017.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

U.S. President Barack Obama acknowledges the crowd as he arrives to deliver his farewell address in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., January 10, 2017.

(REUTERS/John Gress)

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The rule change, made earlier in January by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), applies to foreign surveillance performed by the NSA under Executive Order 12333, a decades-old intelligence-gathering mandate that was greatly expanded after 9/11. While the surveillance program is ostensibly aimed at non-U.S. citizens abroad, the warrantless dragnet is so vast that it "incidentally" collects information about Americans.

Normally, that information is subject to "minimization" requirements, which instruct NSA analysts to either destroy, redact, or otherwise anonymize data about American citizens before sharing it with other agencies. But under the new procedures, the NSA will be permitted to share raw, unfiltered data with other agencies – including the intelligence divisions of domestic law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and DEA.

In other words, if an NSA analyst happens to stumble across evidence of a drug crime, there's now a better chance it will end up in the DEA's tip box.

RELATED: How much of a threat does the NSA pose to the United States?

The new rules specifically contain an exception instructing the NSA to share surveillance data with law enforcement if "the information is evidence of a possible commission of a crime," so long as the receiving agency applies its own "minimization" standards to the data received. While domestic law enforcement agencies aren't technically permitted to use classified intelligence as evidence in court, the DEA and other agencies are known to use methods to obscure the true source of surveillance data – a dubious practice known in the law enforcement world as "parallel construction."

Privacy advocates say the changes represent a significant expansion of power – one that's especially alarming given the incoming Trump administration's open hostility to immigrants, minorities, and members of the press.

"This raises serious concerns that agencies that have responsibilities such as prosecuting domestic crimes, regulating our financial policy, and enforcing our immigration laws will now have access to a wealth of personal information that could be misused," said Neema Singh Guliani, a legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, in a statement. "Congress needs to take action to regulate and provide oversight over these activities."

The post Obama Just Made It Easier For Trump To Use NSA Data Against Americans appeared first on Vocativ.

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