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The National Security Agency And The Surveillance Scandal

1237 words - 5 pages

In recent years the National Security Agency (NSA) has received extensive scrutiny as a result of their disclosed participation in nationwide surveillance programs that ultimately violates thousands of innocent American’s privacy rights. Only recently has the exposure been brought the forefront of media headlines, still the NSA privacy violations date back to the early 2000s when the domestic spying program known as the “President’s Surveillance Program,” was implemented by President George W. Bush shortly after the September 11th attacks in 2001. With the infiltration of several major telecommunication companies the NSA has been able to create a database of every call made ...view middle of the document...

Classified information continued to surface thanks to former CIA member turned whistleblower, Edward Snowden. Snowden exposed the NSA and other private organization for the mass collections of surveillance data and privacy violations taking place throughout the U.S. and other parts of the country.
The first program revealed was PRISM, which is a clandestine mass electronic surveillance data mining program. Launched in 2007 by the NSA, PRISM is a government code name for a data-collection effort known officially by the Signal Intelligence Activity Designator (SIGAD) US-984XN. The PRISM program collects stored internet communications made to internet companies such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, and others. The program operated under the premise of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendment Act of 2008, which demanded that any data that match court-approved search terms be turned over. Documents indicate that PRISM is the number one source of raw intelligence used for NSA analytic reports, and it accounts for 91% of the NSA's Internet traffic acquired under FISA section 702 authority.
The NSA call database, also known as MAINWAY, is a collection of metadata for billions of phone calls and phone records made through the two largest phone carriers in the U.S., Verizon and AT&T. Though the MAINWAY was exposed in 2006 to the public, it was not until recently that, Boundless Informant, another component of the program was revealed in Snowden’s leaked documents. Boundless Informant is a data analysis and data visualization tool used by the NSA, which essentially counts metadata and is transmitted into a visual summary of the NSA’s world wide data collection activities.
The NSA was also harvesting millions of email and instant messaging contact lists, searching email content, tracking and mapping the location of cell phones, and undermining attempts at encryption via Bullrun, a highly classified decryption program. The agency also used cookies to highjack the same tools used by internet advertisers to pinpoint targets for government hacking and to bolster surveillance. The NSA was shown to be secretly tapping into Yahoo and Google data centers to collect information from hundreds of millions of account holders worldwide by tapping undersea cables using the MUSCULAR program, a jointly operated surveillance program by the NSA of the US and Britain’s GCHQ.
Taking it one step further, the documents reveal undeniable excessive use of power when it was disclosed that the NSA, CIA, and GCHQ spied on users of popular computer games such as World of Warcraft through the creation of make-believe characters, and their love interests that the employees of the NSA termed LOVEINT. Documents also show that the NSA was tracking online sexual activity of people, people they termed radicalizers in order to discredit them. The NSA also targeted oil...

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