NSA Grabs 75% of All US Internet Traffic

John Glaser, August 21, 2013
NSA Headquarters, Fort Meade, MD.

NSA Headquarters, Fort Meade, MD.

According to The Wall Street Journal, new details reveal the NSA’s reach is even broader than we’ve thought in the wake of Snowden’s leaks:

The National Security Agency—which possesses only limited legal authority to spy on U.S. citizens—has built a surveillance network that covers more Americans’ Internet communications than officials have publicly disclosed, current and former officials say.

The system has the capacity to reach roughly 75% of all U.S. Internet traffic in the hunt for foreign intelligence, including a wide array of communications by foreigners and Americans. In some cases, it retains the written content of emails sent between citizens within the U.S. and also filters domestic phone calls made with Internet technology, these people say.

The NSA’s filtering, carried out with telecom companies, is designed to look for communications that either originate or end abroad, or are entirely foreign but happen to be passing through the U.S. But officials say the system’s broad reach makes it more likely that purely domestic communications will be incidentally intercepted and collected in the hunt for foreign ones.

Consider this in conjunction with the still classified FISA court finding that significant parts of the NSA’s domestic spying activities were found to be in violation of the Fourth Amendment and with the Washington Post‘s report last week that revealed an internal audit finding the NSA breaks privacy rules thousands of times per year.

“In one instance, the NSA decided that it need not report the unintended surveillance of Americans,” Barton Gellman reported. “The most serious incidents included a violation of a court order and unauthorized use of data about more than 3,000 Americans and green-card holders.”

In other news, President Barack Obama says, “There is no spying on Americans.”

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