Report: NSA compiling baby photos, medical records and resumes of citizens

NEW YORK — Heaps of baby photos, fitness selfies, medical records and resumes are among thousands of private communications scooped up and stored by NSA spy programs.

That’s according to new disclosures based on documents Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, gave to The Washington Post — disclosures that show just how easy it is for Americans’ private conversations to be swept into the spy agency’s traps.

Snowden provided the Post with what it said were 160,000 intercepted conversations, including e-mails, instant messages, photographs, social network posts and other documents. The trove included messages exchanged from 2009 through 2012, and some were hundreds of pages long.

Nearly 90% of the individuals — or accounts — whose information was obtained were not federal targets, but rather ordinary Internet users, a Post analysis found. Some had visited online forums in which targets chatted, or exchanged e-mails with a target, and “were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else,” the Post reported.

Some were identified by either the government or newspaper as Americans. It said NSA analysts censored 65,000 references to Americans’ names, contact information or other details. The paper found almost 900 “unmasked” e-mail addresses “that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S. residents.”

The Post said the agency’s standards for classifying someone as a foreigner could apply to “tens of millions of Americans,” such as those who log into an e-mail account when traveling outside the country or use proxy servers located outside the U.S.

At least one subject was classified as foreign simply because the person communicated in a foreign language.

The Post said it withheld several significant conversations that were within the documents at the request of unnamed government officials.

Past revelations based on Snowden-provided documents have shown how the U.S. government taps private accounts, scoops up personal data and hacks Internet security measures. Sunday’s disclosure sheds light on what the government collects through some of those efforts.

President Obama and national security officials have defended certain programs as important for national security and subject to appropriate restrictions. But privacy advocates and some lawmakers remain unsatisfied.

7 comments

  • jackson

    I don’t know if this is current information, but obvious NSA is going too far. NSA should be abolished unless they are willing to regulate their own behavior.

  • boom boom

    yeah one comment, from some genius calling for self-regulation; so much for Snowden’s sea change inspired by the revelation of bad behavior by government – guess that’s a green light for the state – don’t interfere with the coke, chips, beer, chicken wings, movies and video games and that’s enough apparently

  • Jshowee

    I would like to see congress (the people’s representatives) oversee and neuter this org much like they did in the 70’s with an out of control CIA. It’s time to stop building a surveillance and police state much as the ‘big government’ people hope for. Change your ‘hope’, dopes.

  • Ryan

    Congress will never do anything about this, they are all paid under the table and living like kings and queens. Why should they care about the regular, legal, citizen of this country. The only thing that can change the direction in which this country is going are the people who still believe in America. It will take more then one person, it will take thousands or maybe even millions to stand up and take action, which leaves only one questions, when will these people unite? It’s not easy waking up every morning not knowing if you will have a jobs at the end of the day, or healthcare, or be able to feed your family. Things like vacations and having fun are only for the rich it seems now days and the rich are those who are deciding the average citizens lives.

  • mikelitt

    funny I found this via a FB post from a friend who is pro Ovomit.. I hope she see the light that I have been preaching. I never logged on the web out side of the borders of this once great nation, but I do use over seas proxy sites. I could understand if they monitored Tor network nothing on there is on the up and up. But to monitor my fellow country men/women b/c we decided we enjoy internet privacy. I do hope my precautions have taken effect and I am not on their list.

  • Anonymous

    I would ask – what gives certain government organization the inherent right to collect this information? Do you trust another human being more than yourself to be a better arbiter of proper behavior? With the boom of the internet and information sharing, isn’t transparency a better incentive than fear? Just because a government agency has the ability to collect information doesn’t mean it’s going to only do good with it. Knowledge isn’t always power, wisdom needs to go hand in hand with that knowledge. A government agency (or any money making group of people) will want to be self-sustaining, so if there is a time in the future that mankind does not need the NSA to exist, what extent do you think it may go to, to ensure their own survival? And they have now equipped themselves with information to be used against anyone or any ideology that threatens their existence.

  • luke

    Pretty sure the one guy that called this back when the Patriot Act was introduced was voted out on the pretense he wasn’t being patriotic.

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