Ordinary internet users 'made up bulk of NSA intercepts'

Generic pic of computer user Much highly personal information was retained by the NSA, the paper says

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Ninety percent of people identified in a tranche of communications intercepted by the NSA were ordinary internet users, not foreign surveillance targets, analysis by a US paper says.

The Washington Post says innocents were "caught in a net the National Security Agency had cast for somebody else".

Much of the highly personal information was retained, the paper says, even though it had no intelligence value.

The information was provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The paper said it reviewed some 160,000 emails and instant-messages and 7,900 documents from some 11,000 online accounts, gathered by the NSA between 2009 and 2012.

The Post said that a four-month investigation it carried out revealed that nine out of 10 of the account holders - including many Americans - were not the intended surveillance targets.

Much of the information has, the paper says, a "startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality" telling stories of "love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes".

Edward Snowden in Russia, 11 October 2013 Edward Snowden is living under temporary asylum in Russia

However the paper says that the intercepted files also contained "discoveries of considerable intelligence value".

These included "fresh revelations about a secret overseas nuclear project, double-dealing by an ostensible ally, a military calamity that befell an unfriendly power, and the identities of aggressive intruders into US computer networks", it said.

The Post argues that the surveillance files highlight a policy dilemma for President Obama - while there are some discoveries of "considerable intelligence value" there is also "collateral harm to privacy on a scale that the administration has not been willing to address".

Mr Snowden, 30, fled the US in May 2013 and has been living under temporary asylum in Russia.

Last year, he fed a trove of secret NSA documents to news outlets including the Washington Post and the Guardian.

Among other things, the leaks detailed the NSA's practice of harvesting data on millions of telephone calls made in the US and around the world, and revealed the agency had snooped on foreign leaders.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 961.

    950. An interesting Second Amendment notion - Americans are armed due entirely to NRA for-profit gun sales marketing! The notion of overthrowing a corrupt Government is just window dressing as there is no organized-will to bring the current police-state Gov't to account. (Americans think they are being protected by Gov't.) Elections (sic), rigged by Republicans, are all the public have/understand.

  • rate this

    Comment number 960.

    #957 Solon

    "Our enemies are driving us to it."

    --your friends also ?

    "America finds technological solutions to every problem."


    -- except societal -- ´screwed up´--it is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 959.

    958 The greatest military industrial machine that ever existed has a compelling incentive to produce this kind of military, profits beyond measure. Americans don't like being put at risk by its enemies. They also don't like the bodies of dead and wounded soldiers coming back home. Solution, machines that fight wars in ways in ways never seen. No one is as efficient and inventive at war as the US.

  • rate this

    Comment number 958.

    #954 Solon

    "Being an active enemy of the US will become increasingly risky."

    --as probably will also being American ?

    The problem is there is more than one way ´to skin a cat´

    --as the restrictions on American privacy has demonstrated.

    --what price are you willing to pay as the ante increases -- ´all to lose and only more of the same to win´?

  • rate this

    Comment number 957.

    Robocop America only there won't be humans inside and it won't be just a cop but an entire worldwide military.The future is closer than you think, just around the corner.Our enemies are driving us to it.The movie doesn't even begin to do it justice.America finds technological solutions to every problem.



Comments 5 of 961


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