In an interview with Nextgov, National Security Agency Compliance Director John DeLong said computers autonomously make many legal and policy decisions for intercepting public communications.
DeLong told writer Aliya Sternstein agents have limited time to observe the increasing number of messages and data patterns to analyze, with automated systems filling in that time gap.
However, he added some scenarios need human judgment and NSA agents are trained for foreign espionage authorization.
DeLong added NSA technology filters out certain types of information and that legal and policy rules are embedded in it.
Some of those rules also trigger the computers to delete some information, he told Sternstein.
NSA is also working to have its computers take a whitelisting approach to using software, where all software would be blocked by default until a program receives distinct approval.