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Revealed: How the NSA will spy on you if you just put the word Osama in an email, text message or Facebook chat

4 min read

  • An message sent to a cousin named Osama  may now be enough to make any American a target of  surveillance
  • The information was couched in a set of  rules leaked by Edward Snowden about a 2008 domestic surveillance law 
  • The NSA can read the emails simply by  defining the foreign recipient, and not the American sender, as their  target

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 14:48 EST, 8  August 2013 |  UPDATED: 17:50 EST, 8 August 2013

The NSA isn’t just reading the emails of  American connected to terrorists, the agency is searching virtually all  communications Americans send across the border for the mention of anything even  resembling information about overseas surveillance targets.

New information reveals that even a Facebook  message about al-qaeda sent as a joke or an email sent to a cousin named Osama  might trip NSA surveillance software designed to filter through every message  sent from American soil to a recipient abroad.

This means that just about any message sent  overseas could be read by the NSA as computers flag potentially suspicious  message for examination by humans.

Information overload: A new report shows the NSA is doing a lot more than spying on Americans with terrorist connections, perhaps with the help of its $1.9 billion Utah Data Center 

Information overload: A new report shows the NSA is  doing a lot more than spying on Americans with terrorist connections, perhaps  with the help of its $1.9 billion Utah Data Center

 

By identifying the recipient of the emails or  text messages as the target of the surveillance instead of the sender, the NSA  sidesteps a 2008 law that allows spying on domestic soil without warrants as  long as the target was a noncitizen abroad.

This, according to a shocking New York Times report out Thursday, which cites a senior source inside the NSA.

‘To conduct the surveillance,’ reads the  report, ‘the NSA. is temporarily copying and then sifting through the contents  of what is apparently most e-mails and other text-based communications that  cross the border…[the] computer searches the data for the identifying keywords  or other “selectors” and stores those that match so that human analysts could  later examine them.’

Leaked: The revelation was at least partially couched in information leaked by Edward Snowden, which hinted at the expansive reach of the NSA's surveillance program 

Leaked: The revelation was at least partially couched in  information leaked by Edward Snowden, which hinted at the expansive reach of the  NSA’s surveillance program

 

More convenient: According to the New York Times, the agency searches virtually all emails sent from Americans to recipients overseas. Seen here is the 28-acre NSA facility outside Baltimore, Maryland 

More convenient: According to the New York Times, the  agency searches virtually all emails sent from Americans to recipients overseas.  Seen here is the 28-acre NSA facility outside Baltimore, Maryland

 

The official said the remaining emails, those  not selected by the software, are deleted.

Nonetheless, privacy proponents were in  disbelief.

‘The program described by the New York Times  involves a breathtaking invasion of millions of people’s privacy,’ American  Civil Liberties Union deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer said in a statement.  ‘The NSA has cast a massive dragnet over Americans’ international  communications, collecting and monitoring virtually all of them, and retaining  some untold number of them in government databases. This is precisely the kind  of generalized spying that the Fourth Amendment was intended to  prohibit.’

Jaffer, and undoubtedly others like him, fear  the news could equal an invasion of free speech.

Though it was previously known the NSA targets Americans with known terrorist associations, new evidence shows the agency is far less discriminating as it combs messages for names and emails related to its targets 

Though it was previously known the NSA targets Americans  with known terrorist associations, new evidence shows the agency is far less  discriminating as it combs messages for names and emails related to its  targets

 

‘The government’s scrutiny of virtually every  international email sent by Americans will have extraordinary consequences for  free expression,’ wrote Jaffer. ‘Americans will inevitably hesitate to discuss  controversial topics, visit politically sensitive websites or interact with  foreigners with dissenting views. By injecting the NSA into virtually every  cross-border interaction, the U.S. government will forever alter what has always  been an open exchange of ideas.’

The NSA, meanwhile, all but declined to  respond to the new allegations.

‘In carrying out its signals intelligence  mission, N.S.A. collects only what it is explicitly authorized to collect,’ said  NSA spokeswoman Judith A. Emmel. ‘Moreover, the agency’s activities are deployed  only in response to requirements for information to protect the country and its  interests.’

Emmel did not directly address the  surveillance of cross-border communications, but did stress that surveillance  carried out by the agency is intended to gather information about ‘foreign  powers and their agents, foreign organizations, foreign persons or international  terrorists’ and not about American citizens.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2387232/Revealed-How-NSA-spy-you-just-word-Osama-email-text-message-Facebook-chat.html#ixzz2bQlfpBws Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

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