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NSA Data Collection – Your Buddy List

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According to a recent story in The Washington Post, the amount of information being collected by the NSA (National Security Agency) is much greater than was first reported, where the agency is collecting hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal email and instant messaging accounts worldwide – your “Buddy” list.  This most assuredly includes Americans, tens of millions according to two senior US intelligence officials.

A senior intelligence official has confirmed that the information regarding the capture of personal user data is correct and stems as a result of secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden.  The NSA claims it has no interest in personal details of “most” Americans, while not providing a definition of the term, “most”.

The NSA states, “”The National Security Agency is focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets like terrorists, human traffickers and drug smugglers.”  Additionally, “We are not interested in personal information about ordinary Americans. Moreover, we operate in accordance with rules approved by either the Attorney General or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, as appropriate, designed to minimize the acquisition, use, and dissemination of any such information.”

The quantity of data collected is staggering.  According to The Washington Post, an internal NSA PowerPoint document indicated that approximately 250 million address books are collected each year from Yahoo, Hotmail, Facebook, Gmail, and others, or around 700,000 per day.

What’s extremely interesting is that the NSA has not been given permission to obtain this data as it is illegal to do so from the US, but circumvents the law by collecting it from other global interception points by secret arrangements with foreign telecommunications companies or allied intelligence services.

So, how is it that the NSA intercepts data from US companies abroad?  The reason is because all the companies listed above maintain data centers outside the US, which can then be accessed and used to capture data without breaking the law.

If the NSA obtains the data from sources outside the US, is it no longer a violation of the 4th Amendment?  It seems to be that it would be a violation as the 4th Amendment requires a warrant regardless of where information is obtained.

If you’re OK with the NSA having access to your personal data, then have no worries.  If you don’t appreciate the NSA having access to your personal information, then you should stop using Web-mail, like Gmail, Yahoo, etc. and purchase your own domain.  There are plenty of email clients that can be used with any domain, some with encryption capability.  Also consider no longer using Web-mail based instant messaging systems, as there are some independent proprietary providers working hard to get your business.

Click here for The Washington Post article.

Written by letstakethecountryback

October 15, 2013 at 1:43 pm

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