A new report by The Washington Post reveals that the National Security Agency (NSA) uses Google cookies to pinpoint people for “remote exploitation” and surveillance, citing documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
This comes after it was revealed on Monday that the NSA and GCHQ spy on online games. Last month, it was reported that a secret deal allows the NSA to spy on UK citizens who are not suspected of any wrongdoing.
The latest revelations came in the form of an internal NSA presentation, which shows that “when companies follow consumers on the Internet to better serve them advertising, the technique opens the door for similar tracking by the government,” according to The Washington Post.
The Post notes that this information could very well shift the debate over consumer privacy and Internet cookies, which continues to rage as technology becomes increasingly advanced.
The NSA and GCHQ are both reportedly using cookies that enable websites to identify a person’s browser and allow the user to be tracked across the Web.
The Post reports that the Google tracking mechanism known as the “PREF” cookie “allows NSA to single out an individual’s communications among the sea of Internet data in order to send out software that can hack that person’s computer.”
The documents show that the NSA is also using commercially harvested information to help the agency geolocate mobile devices around the globe. This location information is much more precise than that collected from cellphone networks, according to the Post.
The NSA declined to comment on the tactics outlined in the documents and Google declined to comment to the Post for the article.
However, the NSA maintained that it is well within its mandate when conducting this type of surveillance.
“As we’ve said before, NSA, within its lawful mission to collect foreign intelligence to protect the United States, uses intelligence tools to understand the intent of foreign adversaries and prevent them from bringing harm to innocent Americans,” an NSA spokesman said to the Post.
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