New documents detailing yet another National Security Agency program reveals how the agency uses metadata to search for targets, as well as monitor emails and online chats such as Facebook chats.
XKeyscore, the Guardian reports, is a program that allows NSA analysts to search through “the metadata as well as the content of emails and other internet activity, such as browser history, even when there is no known email account (a “selector” in NSA parlance) associated with the individual being targeted.”
“Analysts can also search by name, telephone number, IP address, keywords, the language in which the internet activity was conducted or the type of browser used,” reports the Guardian.
Supporters of the agency’s mass collection program revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have been dismissive of criticisms, saying the collection of phone numbers and other metadata did not threaten Americans’ privacy.
The newly revealed information reveals how metadata collected by the agency in bulk is used; even a phone number or an email address enables analysts to easily track their targets. XKeyscore also allows analysts to monitor the contents of emails and online chats.
The Guardian also reports that an NSA document from 2007 shows that “there were 850 billion ‘call events’ collected and stored in the NSA databases, and close to 150 billion internet records. Each day, the document says, one to two billion records were added.”
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence declassified documents on Wednesday pertaining to the NSA’s controversial collection of phone records.