The right of the people to be secure in their
persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and
seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon
probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly
describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be
seized- The 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
According to a report published on WSJ.com just before midnight yesterday, the NSA has the capacity to develop the universes biggest collection of internet porn and cute cat pictures. If that was what they were using it for objections would not be so fierce. However the Journal reports that these programs are different than the ones revealed by Edward Snowden, have the capacity to “reach roughly 75% of all U.S.
Internet traffic” includes the writing of emails — not merely their
metadata and all digital telephone service (if you get your phone service through your cable company, for example, be careful what you say on the phone.
According to the report, the programs are being used to spy on both foreigners and Americans.
The systems operate like this: The NSA asks telecom companies to send
it various streams of Internet traffic it believes most likely to
contain foreign intelligence. This is the first cut of the data.
These requests don’t ask for all Internet traffic. Rather, they focus
on certain areas of interest, according to a person familiar with the
legal process. “It’s still a large amount of data, but not everything in
the world,” this person says.
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During the 2002 Olympic, games in Salt Lake City for example, the NSA worked with
the FBI to track all email and text message communications of everyone
in the area for a six-month period. How’s that for 4th Amendment protection from unreasonable search and seizures?
Back in 2006 when it was discovered that the NSA had installed equipment at an AT&T facility in San Francisco,
it became widely suspected that the NSA was directly, or indirectly,
being fed huge amounts of raw Internet data. The WSJ report confirm
Two weeks ago the NSA released a document which reported in part:
According to figures published by a major tech provider,
the Internet carries 1,826 Petabytes of information per day. In its
foreign intelligence mission, NSA touches about 1.6% of that. However,
of the 1.6% of the data, only 0.025% is actually selected for review.
The net effect is that NSA analysts look at 0.00004% of the world’s
traffic in conducting their mission—that’s less than one part in a
million. Put another way, if a standard basketball court represented the
global collection, it would be an area smaller than a dime on that
NSA officials defended the surveillance, saying they respect
Americans’ privacy. NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines told The Wall Street
Journal that the agency implements “minimization procedures that are
approved by the U.S. attorney general and designed to protect the
privacy of United States persons” when domestic communications are
“incidentally collected during NSA’s lawful signals intelligence
activities.” Oh the program was approved by Eric Holder-that makes me feel much better.
The NSA’s system of programs that filter communications (with the help of your phone and internet providers)is designed to look for
communications that either start or end in another country, or happen to pass
through the U.S. between foreign countries. But NSA officials told
the Journal that the system’s reach is so broad, that it is more likely
that purely domestic communications will be intercepted as a byproduct
of the hunt for foreign ones.The NSA is “not wallowing willy-nilly” through online content, another official quoted by the newspaper said. “We want high-grade ore.”
Perhaps the NSA is only targeting “high-grade ore”and perhaps this program is protecting our country. However it seems the only people who truly know how it is being used is the NSA and senior White House officials. It is incumbent on the Congress to revise this system to unsure an advocate for Constitutional rights is part of the system and it is being run with strict Congressional oversight As of now neither of those are being done.