More Edward Snowden Leaks:  NSA Program Collects 'Nearly Everything a User Does on the Internet'
More Edward Snowden Leaks: NSA Program Collects ‘Nearly Everything a User Does on the Internet’ (Photo credit: Guardian)

Glenn Greenwald has released more information on the National Security Agency’s surveillance program thanks to fugitive leaker Edward Snowden. If the leaked documents are to be believed, one should be concerned that the NSA analysts are able to perform searches without authorization via X-Keyscore program, which sweeps up emails, social media activity and browsing history.

A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The NSA boasts in training materials that the program, called XKeyscore, is its “widest-reaching” system for developing intelligence from the internet.

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The files shed light on one of Snowden’s most controversial statements, made in his first video interview published by the Guardian on June 10.

“I, sitting at my desk,” said Snowden, could “wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email”.

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But training materials for XKeyscore detail how analysts can use it and other systems to mine enormous agency databases by filling in a simple on-screen form giving only a broad justification for the search. The request is not reviewed by a court or any NSA personnel before it is processed.

XKeyscore, the documents boast, is the NSA’s “widest reaching” system developing intelligence from computer networks – what the agency calls Digital Network Intelligence (DNI). One presentation claims the program covers “nearly everything a typical user does on the internet”, including the content of emails, websites visited and searches, as well as theirmetadata.

Analysts can also use X-Keyscore and other NSA systems to obtain ongoing “real-time” interception of an individual’s internet activity. Source: Guardian

While I disagree with Edward Snowden leaking the information and fleeing to countries with repressive regimes, I am somewhat concerned at the relative ease with which analysts can access information they shouldn’t. It should be noted that the NSA declassified phone surveillance documents Wednesday morning.