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United States Privacy Security

New Snowden Leak: of 160000 Intercepted Messages, Only 10% From Official Targets 201

An anonymous reader writes in with the latest news about NSA spying from documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post. Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, 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. NSA analysts masked, or "minimized," more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans' privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S. residents."
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New Snowden Leak: of 160000 Intercepted Messages, Only 10% From Official Targets

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  • The Spin (Score:5, Interesting)

    by weilawei ( 897823 ) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @11:18AM (#47393251) Homepage

    The amount of spin applied to the article is incredible. It reads like a propaganda piece designed to have snippets quoted out of context. Good soundbites.

    In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are

    Which appears to imply that we only target foreigners... Since Americans are "untargeted" they don't deserve a mention.

    At one level, the NSA shows scrupulous care in protecting the privacy of U.S. nationals and, by policy, those of its four closest intelligence allies — Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

    And then they never balance out that "At one level" until three paragraphs later.

    Then, they spend most of the article on a fucking fluff piece about the content of some romantic messages. What the fuck is this shit?

    PR spin piece, through and through. They managed to ruin an actual news story.

  • 10%? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 06, 2014 @11:42AM (#47393403)

    And how many of those targets should be targets to begin with? With how easy it is for the government to label someone a 'terrorist' or an 'extremist', their targets are probably mostly harmless people, anyway.

  • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @12:18PM (#47393643) Journal
    If any of the following apply:

    1. You write emails in a foreign language

    2. You chat with known foreigners.

    3. You use an offshore proxy (perhaps to watch sprts events not available on US TV).

    4. Your broswer has stored tracking cookies from Yahoo, which advertisers consider unreliable.

    These are the reported cases. Prbably there are more. Remember that the NSA claimed that it did not track people if the balance of probabilities showed them to be US citizens, but this shows that, once again, the NSA was lying.

  • by godrik ( 1287354 ) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @12:26PM (#47393687)

    How many people are really being unlawfully spied upon? I am not saying that even 1 would be acceptable. But do we have any numbers on that? Because it seems that there was 10,000 unlawful account being spied upon. This is a very small "collateral damage" on the size of the population. There are 313,000,000 people in the US. We are talking about 0.003% which seems "somewhat reasonnable"

    Maybe the article was talking about only a single program. But how vast this "mass surveillance" really is?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 06, 2014 @01:22PM (#47393951)

    They're capturing "metadata" on every conversation/email/message. Now to me metadata includes the contents of the message (conveniently translated to text format, ergo "meta-")..

    In any case they're spying on all 300M Americans.They're guaranteed to read the ones referenced in the article.

  • by Lakitu ( 136170 ) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @03:13PM (#47394505)

    Here's the relevant paragraph from the article:

    If Snowden’s sample is representative, the population under scrutiny in the PRISM and Upstream programs is far larger than the government has suggested. In a June 26 “transparency report,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence disclosed that 89,138 people were targets of last year’s collection under FISA Section 702. At the 9-to-1 ratio of incidental collection in Snowden’s sample, the office’s figure would correspond to nearly 900,000 accounts, targeted or not, under surveillance.

    They use this information from Snowden, the 160,000 intercepted messages, showing that nearly 10 people were targetted "incidentally" for every 1 legitimate target. With that 10 to 1 ratio, and a transparency report released in june showing that there were almost 90,000 legitimate targets, the math comes out to approximately 1 million Americans "incidentally" targetted.

    Of course it's a crock to say these people's communications were spied upon "incidentally". They were explicitly targetted for incidental reasons such as being in the same IRC channel, using a foreign IP address, etc.

    What I don't get, though, is that the list of "minimized" targets whose identities were scrubbed as being likely Americans includes "a sitting President". Does this mean they spied on President Obama's communications, and then scrubbed his identity from it? Were these legitimate targets sending threatening emails to or what? Did they scrub any reference to his name, even when it didn't involve communications originating from him?

    How did he wind up as any of these "incidental" targets?

  • LBJ Quote (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 06, 2014 @05:27PM (#47395187)

    "Every man should know that his conversations, his correspondence, and his personal life are private."

    ~ Lyndon B. Johnson

Money can't buy love, but it improves your bargaining position. -- Christopher Marlowe