The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) has been granted the power to copy, maintain, and analyze massive government databases on American citizens for possible criminal behavior, regardless of innocence, the Wall Street Journal reports. Any analyses pointing to suspicious terrorism-related behavior could lead to an investigation.
Attorney General Eric Holder granted the NCTC these powers in March, after a massive debate behind closed doors in the White House.
Previously, the law limited the NCTC to storing data on people suspected of terrorist activity, or who're involved in an ongoing investigation, Wired reports.
The WSJ reports a few high-ranking officers in the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security pushed back on the expansion, concerned that innocent people could be targeted. Some research suggests there're too few terrorist attacks to establish predictive patterns, according to WSJ.
Counterterrorism officials told the WSJ that they'll be treating the information carefully. The new rules allows the NCTC to keep data for up to five years, and also grants them the ability to share the data with foreign agencies for their own analyses.
Via the Wall Street Journal