90% of NSA Intercepts Involve Non-Targets, 50% Americans

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Alvin Bryan

Alvin Bryan is a freelance writer and online privacy enthusiast enthusiast currently contributing quality tips and troubleshooting on personal VPN services, and online privacy and security news. You can also find him on Google +.

NSA Intercepts DragnetA very revealing report about the NSA dragnet came out over the weekend. NSA intercepts provided by Snowden were recently analyzed. They show that only 10% of the persons involved were legal targets. The US government has vehemently denied Snowden’s claims that they have been spying on Americans. But the analysis proves that about 50% of the surveillance involved American citizens’ data. The NSA has not responded to the report.

NSA Intercepts Involve Illegal Targets

Snowden shared with the Washington Post a large assortment of communications that the NSA has intercepted. The dragnet that the agency threw out was intended for certain foreign targets. But 90% of the data from these NSA intercepts is on Americans and other average Internet users. It is not clear whether these NSA intercepts intentionally gathered data on these people. But it begs the question whether the agency has not taken enough care to protect innocent people while running these NSA intercepts. And from any angle, the 90% affected in the NSA intercepts are not legal targets of government surveillance.

NSA Intercepts KeptOf all the data analyzed from the files Snowden shared, half belong to American citizens. This is of particular interest to US citizens. The law is supposed to prevent the government from spying on its own people. And the government has fervently denied that there is any such thing going on. Now it is clear that the NSA has perhaps not spied on them directly but has also not taken steps to avoid collecting their data. The NSA files include such personal information as names and email addresses as well as details of very private matters, which is a clear violation of constitutional and other privacy rights.

It seems that this data was unintentionally scooped up along with the data on their targets. But what makes the NSA look guilty is the fact that they did not dispose of it. Analysts found personal conversations and other files about love relationships, political affiliations, religious beliefs and financial conditions. The NSA kept all of this data even though NSA analysts had already said it was of no use in the investigation of their targets. There were about 8,000 documents and 160,000 communications from non-targets in the files Snowden gave to the Post. They were taken from over 11,000 different online accounts. And they were gathered over a period of three years from 2009 and 2012.