Yes it is the NSA again. It seems like we can never catch a break from them. According to New York Times, the National Security Agency (NSA) is searching and collecting emails and text messages of Americans who “mention information about foreigners under surveillance.” Take note this is simply mentioning a detail about the wanted foreigner by name, such as in a conversation with a close friend discussing current affairs — you don’t even have to know the person under surveillance or actually be contacting them. This is much broader surveillance than the agency had previously been know for — searching and collecting messages from those who are in direct contact with “foreigners in surveillance.”
To conduct the surveillance, the NSA is temporarily copying and then sifting through the contents of what is apparently most e-mails and other text-based communications that cross the border. The senior intelligence official, who, like other former and current government officials, spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic, said the NSA makes a “clone of selected communication links” to gather the communications, but declined to specify details, like the volume of the data that passes through them.”
Emails and most text based messages are first scanned, then are sifted through and deleted if there is no matching information. According to the senior intelligence official, “the NSA makes a clone of selected communication links to gather information.” However, he did not specify details like how much volume of data goes through the NSA servers.
All this surveillance is made legal by the 2008 FISA Amendment Act, a law that allowed eavesdropping on “domestic soil without warrant” as long as the surveillance “target” is a foreigner… irregardless of whoever gets caught in the spying crossfire. However, take note the FISA Amendment Act does not include ability to monitor voice communications.
When the NSA server receives the data, they have software searches for the identifying keywords and “selectors”. If there are messages that match keywords, then they are stored for human inspection. According to the official, the keywords and selectors are very accurate to minimize the breach of privacy.
Meanwhile, Edward Snowden, the whistle blower who opened the can of worms calls NSA and PRISM, is in Russia where he has been granted temporary asylum. Whoever thought the day would come when someone fighting to protect the American constitution is hiding away in Russia.
[via New York Times, image via iPick]