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Thursday, August 08, 2013

NSA domestic spying even broader than we knew

Telephone switching equipment
New York Times: The National Security Agency is searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans’ e-mail and text communications into and out of the country, hunting for people who mention information about foreigners under surveillance, according to intelligence officials.

The N.S.A. is not just intercepting the communications of Americans who are in direct contact with foreigners targeted overseas, a practice that government officials have openly acknowledged. It is also casting a far wider net for people who cite information linked to those foreigners, like a little used e-mail address, according to a senior intelligence official.

While it has long been known that the agency conducts extensive computer searches of data it vacuums up overseas, that it is systematically searching — without warrants — through the contents of Americans’ communications that cross the border reveals more about the scale of its secret operations.
Greg Sargent quotes an email he received from Jameel Jaffer, a senior civil liberties attorney with the ACLU:

The program described by the New York Times involves a breathtaking invasion of millions of people’s privacy. The NSA has cast a massive dragnet over Americans’ international communications, collecting and monitoring all of them, and retaining some untold number of them in government databases. This is precisely the kind of generalized spying that the Fourth Amendment was intended to prohibit.
"The latest revelations will likely add to Congressional pressure for reform, which is likely to happen eventually, though how transformative it will be remains to be seen," Sargent writes.

[photo via Dave Wilson Cumbria]

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