Sunday, September 29, 2013

Since 2010, NSA Has Collected Social Data On US Citizens

James Risen of NYT:
WASHINGTON — Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials.

The spy agency began allowing the analysis of phone call and e-mail logs in November 2010 to examine Americans’ networks of associations for foreign intelligence purposes after N.S.A. officials lifted restrictions on the practice, according to documents provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor.

The policy shift was intended to help the agency “discover and track” connections between intelligence targets overseas and people in the United States, according to an N.S.A. memorandum from January 2011. The agency was authorized to conduct “large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of communications metadata without having to check foreignness” of every e-mail address, phone number or other identifier, the document said. Because of concerns about infringing on the privacy of American citizens, the computer analysis of such data had previously been permitted only for foreigners.

Oh, and let's not forget what other sources they can use:

The agency can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents. They do not indicate any restrictions on the use of such “enrichment” data, and several former senior Obama administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners.


By now, certainly, no one in government worries about "infringing" on a nonexistent attribute like the privacy of American citizens. And besides, the relevancy to mission is abundantly clear: NSA agents now have more to gossip about with each other in the snack room and with their s.o.'s when they at long last get home in the evening after a long day of PTA (Peeping Tom activity). You do see the direct relevance to national security, don't you? you don't? Hang on a moment while every Tammy, Dick and Harriet in the NSA annotates the big database to reflect your lack of understanding...

Face it: most of this has
happened on Obama's watch

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