July 6, 2014 7:37 am -

Ordinary Internet users, with no reason to be targeted, far outnumber those who are targeted by the NSA, according to a Washington Post investigation.

Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.

Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or “minimized,” more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans’ privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S.residents.

As The Post notes, this is “collateral harm to privacy.”

Many…files, described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained, have a startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality. They tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless…

Taken together, the files offer an unprecedented vantage point on the changes wrought by Section 702 of the FISA amendments, which enabled the NSA to make freer use of methods that for 30 years had required probable cause and a warrant from a judge. One program, code-named PRISM, extracts content stored in user accounts at Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, Google and five other leading Internet companies. Another, known inside the NSA as Upstream, intercepts data on the move as it crosses the U.S. junctions of global voice and data networks.

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

No responses to Ordinary Internet Users Far Outnumber Targeted Foreigners In NSA-Intercepted Data

  1. Shades July 6th, 2014 at 7:40 am

    You’ve already seen my surprised face.

    • Tommy6860 July 6th, 2014 at 7:51 am

      Yep, this story is about as shocking as a dead battery.

  2. Anomaly 100 July 6th, 2014 at 8:04 am

    I had some of my DMs read by the feds once. I only know about it because it was in a police report, then mentioned on a couple of sites. I was doing a story on Anonymous, then the guy got busted. I felt so sorry for the guys reading my messages. It must have bored them to death.

    • ChrisVosburg July 6th, 2014 at 11:54 am

      I felt so sorry for the guys reading my messages. It must have bored them to death.

      Doubt it, darlin’. I don’t think it’s possible for you to be unentertaining.

      • Anomaly 100 July 6th, 2014 at 1:19 pm

        Aw, you’re the best. Also, you’ve never read my messages obviously:-)

    • mmaynard119 July 6th, 2014 at 9:59 pm

      The ones about penises were interesting.

  3. mea_mark July 6th, 2014 at 8:53 am

    It’s going to happen, as a nation, as a people we need to learn to be a little bit more careful on how we live our lives. As long as there are bad people out there that want to hurt others surveillance will be a part of life. What we need to watch out for is abuse. We don’t want the bad people getting the upper hand.

  4. ChrisVosburg July 6th, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    I read the Washington Post article a few times, because it seemed to be stating the bloody obvious: yes, the subject of an investigation will have many contacts with folks who have nothing to do with whatever it is he’s cookin’ up.

    Yep, that’s what it’s about. Somewhere Ric Romero is seething with jealousy.

  5. mmaynard119 July 6th, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    This continues to be a non-story. The idiocy involved in this is the belief that the NSA was listening in to every call and reading every e-mail every day. It’s not humanly possible. Most of the “reading” is done electronically via (in general terms) the same type of SEO reading that is encouraged in other applications. The real question is did the NSA violate the letter and the spirit of the USA Patriot Act that allowed these activities? Snowden did no one any favors by his actions, including himself.