NSA's New Spying Tool: Social Networks

NYT: Agency looks at Americans' connections to create 'sophisticated' profiles

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 28, 2013 1:54 PM CDT

(Newser) – Thanks to Edward Snowden, we already knew that the NSA was gathering all kinds of data—or "metadata," as the agency prefers—about Americans' phone calls and emails. But just how does it assess all that information? By creating a social network of sorts—but one that nobody would want to be on. The New York Times explains in its latest Snowden scoop:

  • The NSA "has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information ..."

To make those "sophisticated graphs" as sophisticated as possible, the agency also culls data from Facebook profiles, voter registration rolls, property records, GPS data, tax information—you get the picture. An NSA spokesperson insists that any such analysis has a "foreign intelligence justification, period." But the story notes that a 2011 policy change allows the NSA to compile these records "without having to check foreignness" of all the email addresses or phone numbers involved. The agency would not say how many US citizens had been scrutinized. Click for the full story.

The National Security Administration campus in Fort Meade, Md.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
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