The employees even had a code name for the practice – “Love-int” – meaning the gathering of intelligence on their partners.
Dianne Feinstein, a senator who chairs the Senate intelligence committee, said the NSA told her committee about a set of “isolated cases” that have occurred about once a year for the last 10 years. The spying was not within the US, and was carried out when one of the lovers was abroad.
One employee was disciplined for using the NSA’s resources to track a former spouse, the Associated Press said.
Last week it was disclosed that the NSA had broken privacy rules on nearly 3,000 occasions over a one-year period.
John DeLong, NSA chief compliance officer, said that those errors were mainly unintentional, but that there have been “a couple” of wilful violations in the past decade.