The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) spy courts, which meet behind closed doors and exist basically to rubber stamp government surveillance requests, are known to be almost preposterously permissive to the NSA. Despite that, the NSA still violates its instructions, and the law.
FISA Judge Thomas Hogan wrote in an opinion that the court is “extremely concerned” about the NSA’s behavior, noting that they are likely violating the law by failing to delete information collected on the Internet within the periods mandated.
Under the law, the NSA is required to delete data collected in their assorted surveillance schemes. Depending on the method of the collection, the deletion must be done in a period from 2 to 5 years. The NSA wasn’t doing that.
Indeed, the court explicitly ordered the NSA to delete data in multiple cases, in orders dating back to 2010 and 2012. The government then informed the court, four years later, that the NSA was still keeping the data in violation of those orders, and that it believed it could do so.