The Associated Press dropped a bombshell report yesterday that claims the NSA's secret Internet spy program, Prism, is just a small part of a much more "expansive and intrusive" digital spying effort.
According to the AP, the NSA copies ALL INTERNET traffic in and out of the United States for analysis by "Hoovering" all data that passes through fiber lines.
"Tapping into those cables allows the NSA access to monitor emails, telephone calls, video chats, websites, bank transactions and more. It takes powerful computers to decrypt, store and analyze all this information, but the information is all there, zipping by at the speed of light," AP reports.
Prism was originally thought to be a program to force Internet companies to hand over private user data to the government. But it turns out that Prism is actually a filtering tool to "make sense of the cacophony of the Internet's raw feed...Prism takes large beams of data and helps the government find discrete, manageable strands of information."
It then manages those strands of data by creating dossiers on every Internet user, providing the government with "names, addresses, conversation histories and entire archives of email inboxes."
And, of course, all of this data is collected and kept on innocent people without a warrant or any probable cause.
This explosive report comes the same day that the NSA held a classified briefing for members of Congress where they admit to listening to phone calls within the United States without a warrant.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed this week that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed "simply based on an analyst deciding that."
If the NSA wants "to listen to the phone," an analyst's decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. "I was rather startled," said Nadler, an attorney and congressman who serves on the House Judiciary committee.Nadler told CNET that the "same legal standards that apply to phone calls also apply to e-mail messages, text messages, and instant messages."
In other words, the NSA claims the authority to listen to any call or read any email based on the whims of an analyst, not a court order based on probable cause.
This is precisely the power Edward Snowden, as an analyst working for the private NSA contract Booz Allen Hamilton, claimed to have in his interview with The Guardian.
All of these recent revelations seem to confirm the worst fears of civil liberties groups. The American government is indeed listening to our phone calls and reading our emails without a warrant and little to no oversight for how this information is accessed or used.
What's even worse, they're building dossiers on all Americans to be tapped whenever one of the hundreds of thousands of analysts decides to, and all of it occurs in secret.
This is perhaps the most egregious breach of the public's trust in the history of the United States. The government operates with complete secrecy while knowing all private information about its citizens.
Weren't we supposed to have a transparent government with individual privacy for citizens?
J.P. Hicks is an entrepreneur, info-activist, pro blogger, editor of BlogTips.com and author of Secrets to Making Money with a Free Blog. Follow @ Twitter, or like on Facebook.
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