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There have been a lot of news stories about NSA surveillance programs following the leaks of secret documents by Edward Snowden. But it seems the more we read, the less clear things are. We've put together a detailed snapshot of what's known and what's been reported where.President Obama Defends N.S.A. Surveillance Programs - The New York Times
A record of most calls made in the U. This program was revealed through a leaked secret court order instructing Verizon to turn over all such information on a daily basis. All together, this is several billion calls per day.
Facebook posts and instant messages for an unknown of people, via PRISMwhich involves the cooperation of at least nine different technology companies. Facebook has revealed that, in the last six months ofthey handed over the private data of between 18, and 19, users to law enforcement of all types -- including local police and federal agencies, such as the FBI, Federal Marshals and the NSA.
Massive amounts of raw Internet traffic The NSA intercepts huge amounts of raw data, and stores billions of communication records per day in its databases. Currently the NSA is only authorized to intercept Internet communications with at least one end outside the U.
But because there is no fully reliable automatic way to separate domestic from international communications, this program Looking for a similar regarding nsa captures some amount of U. The contents of an unknown of phone calls There have been several reports that the NSA records the audio contents of some phone calls and a leaked document confirms this. There does not seem to be any public information about the collection of text messages, which would be much more practical to collect in bulk because of their smaller size.
This currently includes the metadata for nearly all telephone calls made in the U. Until the NSA also operated a domestic Internet metadata program which collected mass records of who ed who even if both parties were inside the U. Because it is not always possible to separate domestic from foreign communications by automatic means, the NSA still captures some amount of purely domestic information, and it is allowed to do so by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
The slides specifically mention s, Facebook chats, websites visited, Google Maps searches, transmitted files, photographs, and documents of different kinds. This is a massive amount of data.
Telephone metadata is smaller and is stored for five years. NSA analysts can move specific data to more permanent databases when they become relevant to an investigation. The NSA also collects narrower and more detailed information on specific people, such as the actual audio of phone calls and the entire content of s.
NSA analysts can submit a request to obtain these types of more detailed information about specific people. The NSA is allowed to record the conversations of non-Americans without a specific warrant for each person monitored, if at least one end of the conversation is outside of the U.
It is also allowed to record the communications of Americans if they are outside the U. How the NSA actually gets the data depends on the type of information requested. If the analyst wants someone's private s or social media posts, the NSA must request that specific data from companies such as Google and Facebook.
The NSA also has the capability to monitor calls made over the Internet such as Skype calls and instant messaging chats as they happen. For information that is already flowing through Internet cables that the NSA is monitoring, or the audio of phone calls, a targeting request instructs automatic systems to watch for the communications of a specific person and save them.
If you have ly communicated with someone who has been targeted, then the NSA already has the content of any s, instant messages, phone calls, etc.
Also, your data is likely in bulk records such as phone metadata and Internet traffic recordings. They can guess who you are close to by how often you call someone, and when. Phone company call records reveal where you were at the time that a call was made, because they include the identifier of the radio tower that transmitted the call to you. The government has repeatedly denied that it collects this information, but former NSA employee Thomas Drake said they do. Even without location data, records of who communicated with whom can be used to discover the structure of groups planning terrorism.
Starting from a known "target" see aboveanalysts typically reconstruct the social network " two or three hops " out, examining all friends-of-friends, or even friends-of-friends-of-friends, in the search for new targets. This means potentially thousands or millions of people might be examined when investigating a single target. Metadata is a sensitive topic because there is great potential for abuse. While no one has claimed the NSA is doing this, it would be possible to use metadata to algorithmically identify, with some accuracy, members of other types of groups like the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street, gun owners, undocumented immigrants, etc.
An expert in network analysis could start with all of the calls made from the time and place of a protest, and trace the networks of associations out from there. Phone Looking for a similar regarding nsa become even more powerful when they are correlated with other types of data, such as social media posts, local police records and credit card purchase informationa process known as intelligence fusion. Leaked court orders set out the "minimization" procedures that govern what the NSA can do with the domestic information it has intercepted.
The NSA is allowed to store this domestic information because of the technical difficulties in separating foreign from domestic communications when large amounts of data are being captured. Another document shows that individual intelligence analysts make the decision to look at ly collected bulk information.
They must document their request, but only need approval from their "shift coordinator. Unless there are other still secret restrictions on how the NSA can use this data this means the police might end up with your private communications without ever having to get approval from a judge, effectively circumventing the whole notion of probable cause.
This is ificant because thousands or millions of people might fall into the extended social network of a single known target, but it is not always possible to determine whether someone is a U. Yes, assuming the NSA adheres to the restrictions set out in recently leaked court orders. The NSA was gradually granted the authority to collect domestic information on a massive scale through a series of legislative changes and court decisions over the decade following September 11, See this timeline of loosening laws.
The author of the Patriot Act disagrees that the act justifies the Verizon metadata collection program. The program operated that way for several years, but in March a Justice Department review declared the bulk Internet metadata program was illegal. President Bush ed an order re-authorizing it anyway.
Looking for a similar regarding nsa backed down, and the Internet metadata program was suspended for several months. Byall aspects of the program were re-authorized by court orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Inthe Justice Department acknowledged that the NSA had collected s and phone calls of Americans in a way that exceeded legal limitations.
The Justice Department has said that this ruling must remain secret, but we know it concerned some aspect of the "minimization" rules the govern what the NSA can do with domestic communications.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court recently decided that this ruling can be released, but Justice Department has not yet done so. Civil liberties groups including the EFF and the ACLU dispute the constitutionality of these programs and have filed lawsuits to challenge them. The NSA can generally keep intercepted domestic communications for up to five years. The NSA can also keep encrypted communications indefinitely.
That includes any information sent to or from a secure web sitethat is, a site with a URL starting with "https". First, the NSA is only allowed to intercept communications if at least one end of the conversation is outside of the U.
When the NSA discovers that ly intercepted information belongs to an American, it must usually destroy that information.
Because this determination cannot always be made by computer, this sometimes happens only after a human analyst has already looked at it. The NSA also must apply certain safeguards. For example, the NSA must withhold the names of U. Also, analysts must document why they believe someone is outside of the U. An unknown of these cases are audited internally. If the NSA makes a mistake and discovers that it has targeted someone inside the U. All bets are off. There do not appear to be any legal restrictions on what the NSA can do with the communications of non-U.
The European Union has already complained to the U. Attorney General. The U. Many countries now have some sort of mass Internet surveillance now in place.Myths About the NSA
Although passive surveillance is often hard to detect, more aggressive governments use intercepted information to intimidate or control their citizens, including SyriaIran, Egypt, Bahrain and China. Much of the required equipment is sold to these governments by American companies. Get our investigations delivered to your inbox with the Big Story newsletter. Thank you for your interest in republishing this story. You are are free to republish it so long as you do the following:. This story was originally published on June 27, What information does the NSA collect and how?
Does the NSA record everything about everyone, all the time? Does the NSA need an individualized warrant to listen to my calls or look at my s? Is all of this legal? How long can the NSA keep information on Americans? address. Latest Stories from ProPublica. The Women on the Other End of the Phone. Close this screen. Search ProPublica:. You are are free to republish it so long as you do the following: You have to credit us. For more information about canonical metadata, refer to this Google SEO link. Please contact [ protected].
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The NSA Continues to Violate Americans' Internet Privacy Rights