Feeds

NSA dragnet mostly slurped innocents' traffic

Latest Snowden leak suggests indiscriminate retention

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

NSA babbler Edward Snowden's latest drop alleges something that's been suspected ever since he went public during 2013: that spy agencies reach far beyond “persons-of-interest”, with data on ordinary internet users far outstripping that held over formal “targets”.

According to The Washington Post, the latest set of documents – provided to the Post only – “Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations … were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.”

Even data that the NSA has decided is irrelevant is retained by the agency, the story alleges.

The Post believes the documents it has seen were obtained as a result of America's 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Survey Act, and which authorities had previously said Snowden could not have accessed.

While not detailing just how many records Snowden allowed it to see, the Post alleges that the document drop indicated around 65,000 “masked” identities of US citizens or residents, plus around 900 email addresses that weren't masked and indicated strong links to citizens or residents.

Some of the data caught in the indiscriminate sweep turned out to be of possible value, with the WP claiming the documents indicate that communications tracked by the NSA led to the 2011 capture of Pakistani bomb-maker Muhammad Tahir Shahzad and 2002 Bali bombing suspect Umar Patek.

However, such communications were vastly outweighed by “startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic” records that had nothing to do with targets, covering “the daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted”.

Since other leaks have alleged that Five Eyes partners like the UK's GCHQ routinely tapped entire submarine fibre networks, it is hardly surprising that the overwhelming majority of data the NSA collected had nothing to do with its investigations.

Given that GCHQ's Optic Nerve programme turned out to include images of a very personal nature, it's hardly surprising that the documents Snowden worked through with the Post included men showing off their physiques and images in which “women model lingerie, leaning suggestively into a webcam or striking risqué poses in shorts and bikini tops”. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
Apple tried to get a ban on Galaxy, judge said: NO, NO, NO
Judge Koh refuses Samsung ban for the third time
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.