Techie's FOIA request for backup data from NSA denied

This undated photo provided by the National Security Agency (NSA) shows its headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. NSA via Getty Images

Jokes about the National Security Agency as a source for backup data has circulated on the Internet since its former contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents detailing the agency's extensive surveillance program. One tech company's employee wanted take the jokes to task, and submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to see what would happen.

According to CNET, soon after Snowden's leaked documents were published by the media, Yev Pusin -- an employee at online backup company Backblaze -- submitted a FOIA request to the NSA to retrieve any data that was collected about him.

Not confirming or denying it had any information on Pusin, the NSA responded with a letter stating:

"Your request is denied because the fact of the existence or non-existence of responsive records is a currently and properly classified matter in accordance with Executive Order 13526, as set forth in Subparagraph (c) of Section 1.4."

It went on the further say:

"Any positive or negative response on a request-by-request basis would allow our adversaries to accumulate information and draw conclusions about NSA's technical capabilities, sources, and methods. Our adversaries are likely to evaluate all public responses related to these programs. Were we to provide positive or negative responses to requests such as yours, our adversaries' compilation of the information provided would reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security."

A similar request was submitted by the investigative journalism website Pro Publica. It was also denied. A staff attorney at the Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press told Pro Publica that it would take a lawsuit to acquire those records.

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