The National Secuirty Agency (NSA) has a top secret program called XKeyscore, according to new leaks from Edward Snowden. Essentially, the program tracks everything you do on the internet including your browsing history, emails, online chats and metadata.
These reports come as a follow up piece from The Guardian, who originally exposed the NSA’s surveillance practices. Snowden has provided The Guardian with XKeyscore training materials. The NSA describes the program as its “widest reaching” system for developing intelligence from the Internet.
Through this program, analysts are able to search through your information, without the need of a warrant, court clearance or signature. They need simply to complete a basic onscreen form and then they have full access to the entire database of your online history. The NSA claim that XKeyscore covers “nearly everything a typical user does on the Internet”.
The law states that the NSA need to obtain FISA warrants to tap U.S citizens, but this does apply for Americans with foreign targets. XKeyscore gives the agency the technology it needs to carry out such surveillance in those circumstances. The training materials provided by Snowden claim that XKeyscore helped capture 300 terrorists by 2008.
In response to these new revelations the NSA released a full statement defending the program, stressing that it only targets “legitimate foreign intelligence targets”. It also said that it does not allow “widespread, unchecked analyst access” to the data and that analysts have to go through the “appropriate training”. The agency concluded by saying that its “tools have stringent oversight and compliance mechanisms” and that “no analyst can operate freely”.
The NSA has repeated its warning that leaks of this kind are “detrimental to the national security of the United States”. It also has to be said that according to reports, XKeyscore only keeps content of emails and other such data for three to five days. However if the NSA think it necessary, the content can be moved to a more permanent database.
Edward Snowden is currently awaiting response from the Russian Immigration Authority regarding his request for asylum.
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