The United States spies on the public all over the world

The United States spies on the public all over the world

The United States spies on the public all over the world

The U.S. surveillance on the Internet is so massive that it is able to monitor nearly everything a targeted user does on the Internet. According to the Guardian, American intelligence uses a secret surveillance system known as XKeyscore, comprising 500 servers distributed around the world, to mine intelligence from the Internet. Leaked documents boast that XKeyscore is the NSA's "widest reaching" system covering "nearly everything a typical user does on the Internet."

Documents released by Snowden show that the NSA gathers around 5 billion records each day on the whereabouts of cell phones and these records comprise a vast database of information. Also, the NSA collected about 2 billion cell phone text messages each day from around the world.

Some U.S. media have remarked that intercepting suspects' telephones to obtain information is nothing new, but collecting such vast amount of intelligence overseas is astonishing.

The Washington Post reported that the NSA secretly broke into the main communication links that connect Yahoo and Google's respective data centers around the world. By tapping these links, the agency positioned itself to collect data at will from hundreds of millions of user accounts. By analyzing the data, the NSA can discover who sent or received emails, when and where, as well as email contents, including audio and video as well as text.

According to the Brazilian website Fantastico, the NSA has carried out so-called Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attacks using fake security certificates to pose as a legitimate web service, bypass browser security settings, and intercept data that unsuspecting persons are attempting to send to that service. Google is among the services the NSA has impersonated.

The Guardian has revealed that the NSA routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about U.S. citizens. This is despite of earlier promises by the Obama administration to rigorously protect the privacy of innocent U.S. citizens caught in the dragnet.

On Dec. 31, 2013, the German news magazine Der Spiegel quoted NSA papers describing how the agency collected sensitive data from Sea-Me-We 4, the key undersea telecommunication cable system linking Europe and Asia, as well as its plans to continue eavesdropping on other undersea cables.

The French daily Le Monde reported that the U.S. spy agency tapped more than 70.3 million phone calls made in France between December 10, 2012, and January 8, 2013.

In an internal NSA document, smart phone operating systems such as iOS and Android are described as the "gold nugget of data resources." The NSA and the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) have been collaborating on mobile phone surveillance since 2007, when the budget of the NSA was increased from 204 million U.S. dollars to 767 million U.S. dollars, allowing the agency to dig even deeper.

The Guardian and the New York Times have reported that the NSA targets smartphone apps to fish for users' personal data such as age, nationality and location (based on GPS). The apps under surveillance include the popular game Angry Birds, Google Maps, Facebook, Twitter and the photo-sharing site Flickr.

The NSA has planted backdoor software in around 100,000 computers worldwide since 2008, giving it the capability to monitor them around the clock, as well as launch attacks. The agency can access and control these computers using radio waves even if they are not connected to a network.

Since 2010, the NSA has been snooping on U.S. citizens to "analyze their social connectivity, to identify private information such as the users' associates, their location at a certain point of time, and their travelling companions."

All of the NSA's surveillance activities have been conducted in secrecy, following a secret U.S. government decision to loosen restrictions on surveillance and bypass deliberation or discussion by the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. A memorandum filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2006 warned about the possible abuse of surveillance.

The NSA applies sophisticated analytical techniques to identify what it calls "co-travelers," i.e. unknown associates of known targets. This project allows the NSA to explore the social links of known targets. The location and time of their activities can be extracted in under an hour from a vast database of information. Associates of known targets become the NSA's new targets.

U.S. government officials have argued that these massive surveillance operations are legal and do not target U.S. citizens, but U.S. citizens travelling abroad are nevertheless subject to eavesdropping. U.S. media have also reported that the NSA carried out a pilot project to collect huge amounts of mobile phone location data within the United States during 2010 and 2011.

In April 2013, Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, said in his report to the Human Rights Council that the United States, by renewing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, had empowered the U.S. government to "conduct surveillance of non-American persons located outside the United States including any foreign individual whose communications are hosted by cloud services located in the United States."

Leaked documents show that many countries, including Germany, South Korea and Japan have been targeted by the NSA's eavesdropping, and that the intelligence agencies of the United States and some European countries have joined hands to launch massive network monitoring and phone-tapping operations that severely undermine the network security of all countries.

Norwegian media have reported that Norway is also a target of U.S. surveillance. The NSA collected data from more than 33 million mobile phone calls made in Norway between December 10, 2012, and January 8, 2013.

The Italian weekly L'Espresso has reported that British and U.S. intelligence agencies have been massively bugging Italian telephone communications and network data.

[ Editor: Jack ]