NSA Reportedly Filters 75 Percent of U.S. Internet Traffic

(Image source: Wikimedia Commons) BY EVAN THOMAS More U.S. surveillance revelations, this time
that the amount of domestic Internet traffic the NSA watches is much higher than originally
thought. A new report from the Wall Street Journal
indicates the NSA combs through as much as 75 percent of all U.S. Internet traffic in
its hunt for foreign intelligence. (Via The Wall Street Journal) “…retaining written content in e-mails and
filtering domestic phone calls made over the web. that’s more than we previously thought.”
(Via MSNBC) The NSA allegedly collects this data through
programs with names like Fairview, Oakstar and Lithium. Data flows in through major Internet
junctions at multiple locations in the U.S. And that’s with the cooperation of telecommunications
providers. Such a high volume of domestic traffic appears to clash with the NSA’s previously
cited figures for its global reach. It claimed it only touches 1.6 percent of
worldwide Internet traffic. This new report indicates much more raw data flows into the
system. (Via Ars Technica) The Verge explains a series of refinements,
where the NSA first negotiates with Internet providers to tap into potentially threatening
communications, then decides what parts of that information it wants to keep. “…which could mean that the NSA does indeed
‘touch’ only 1.6 percent of the world’s internet traffic at any given moment. But again, it
can make those [decisions] based on the actual contents of those communications, not merely
metadata, according to the Journal.” (Via The Verge) And as a writer for TechCrunch points out,
there’s still the problem of the NSA getting to choose its data from the huge domestic
stream. “So, the NSA was perhaps technically telling
the truth, or something near to it, without admitting far deeper and pervasive surveillance
efforts … However, the data is pooled on NSA servers, and that simply is not fine with
me.” (Via TechCrunch) In the Wall Street Journal article, the NSA
reiterated its programs are not targeted at U.S. residents. In the event of intercepted
domestic communication, “…the agency follows ‘minimization procedures
that are approved by the U.S. attorney general and designed to protect the privacy of United
States persons.'” (Via The Hill) It’s not clear how effective these measures
have been, though. Previous reports indicate the NSA has committed
thousands of privacy transgressions a year, some of which courts ruled violations of the
Fourth Amendment. (Via The Washington Post)

Danny Hutson

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