Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc. (left) and Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah (center) are both signatories to a letter demanding answers about how many Americans have had their information caught up by NSA “upstream” data collection. (credit: Getty Images)

On Friday, a group of members of Congress who are central to the surveillance debate demanded some kind of answer, even a vague one, about how many Americans are having their data harvested by surveillance programs.
In a sharply worded letter (PDF) to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, 14 members of the House Judiciary Committee insisted he provide some type of “public estimate” of the number of US communications that are being caught up in surveillance programs authorized by Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.

That’s the law that spy agencies like the NSA use to justify “upstream collection” of bulk data from Internet infrastructure.
“We note that we are not the first to ask you for this basic information,” states the group of representatives.

They mentioned that Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and former Sen. Mark Udall (D-N.M.) have asked for such information since 2011.
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