Jul 09 2014

New Analysis Finds NSA Captures and Retains Intimate Details of Lives of “Ordinary Internet Users”

The Senate Intelligence Committee led by California’s Dianne Feinstein, passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act yesterday in a closed session, which many suspect is a rehash of the controversial CISPA bill decried by civil liberties groups last year. The bill may enable the National Security Agency to access Americans’ data even more easily than it already does. And, a new report by award winning reporter Glenn Greenwald published this morning in The Intercept, has found that documents provided by Edward Snowden, show the FBI has been monitoring five high-profile Muslim American leaders in a similar way that it spied on black leaders in the 1960s under Cointelpro.

In a lengthy expose published over the Fourth of July weekend, the Washington Post shed more light on the NSA’s surveillance program, finding that the vast majority of those people whose data are being collected, are ordinary internet users. Based on a trove of data given to the paper also by Snowden, the Post was able to determine that “Nine of 10 account holders … 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.”

The Post also found that much of the information was deemed not useful by NSA analysts who reviewed the data but was being retained nonetheless, and that the files, “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.”

GUEST: Ashkan Soltani, an independent privacy and security researcher, regular contributor to the Washington Post

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