NSA uses XKeyscore program which tracks 'nearly everything a user does on the internet'
The program can use almost any identifying information to track the online behaviour of a target
Further revelations have emerged giving insight into the National Security Agency's surveillance of world data, in particular the use of a top secret program that allows analysts to track "nearly everything a user does on the internet”.
Leaked presentation slides published by The Guardian today show how the program, called XKeyscore, allows the NSA to monitor the social media activity, emails and browsing history of web users with little or no prior authorisation.
One of the presentations claims that XKeyscore can track "nearly everything a typical user does on the internet", the newspaper reported.
The program can use almost any identifying information to track the online behaviour of a target including their email addresses, IP address, phone number, keywords, or even browser type.
To use the program analysts simply have to fill in an onscreen form "giving only a broad justification for the search", said the report.
In an indication of the program's scope, one slide says that XKeyscore has led to the capture of more than 300 terrorists. In a statement, the NSA said that figure only included captures up to the year 2008, and pushed back against any suggestion of illegal or arbitrary collection of data.
"These types of programs allow us to collect the information that enables us to perform our missions successfully — to defend the nation and to protect US and allied troops abroad," the statement said.
How and from where the program draws its data isn't completely clear, but one slide said XKeyscore was supported by 700 servers and 150 sites across the globe. Another slide seemed to show the program drawing data from a body codenamed SSO — an apparent reference to the NSA's Special Source Operations, which previous Guardian articles have described as capturing large numbers of communications between the United States and other countries.
The volume of data available to analysts through XKeyscore appears to be vast. The paper quoted one slide as saying that nearly 42 billion records had been captured by the system during a one-month period in 2012 — a rate of half a trillion records every year. So much content was being collected, the newspaper said, that it could only be stored for short periods of time — generally just a few days.
"At some sites, the amount of data we receive per day (20+ terabytes) can only be stored for as little as 24 hours," one document was quoted as saying.
In a message forwarded to The Associated Press by Guardian spokesman Gennady Kolker, journalist Glenn Greenwald said the article about XKeyscore drew on half a dozen documents supplied to him by Snowden in Hong Kong. One of them — a 32-page overview of the program — was published in its entirety, albeit with several pages redacted.
The documents are the first to have been published in the Guardian since Snowden, who remains stuck at a Moscow airport, applied for temporary asylum in Russia on 16 July.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he'd be inclined to accept him on condition that Snowden agreed not to hurt US interests — implying that the American would have to stop leaking secrets. But Snowden's Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, said today that the material for the article was provided long before Snowden promised to stop leaking.
"He warned me that he had already sent to the press an array of revealing information and secret documents and, unfortunately, could not stop its publication," Kucherena was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press
sportLiverpool 5 Norwich City 1: Uruguayan striker has now scored 11 league goals against the club
arts + entsOlivier-nominated actor and singer is set to star in Lloyd Webber's musical about the Profumo affair
filmWith more than 70 per cent of early films lost, archivists are scouring the world to preserve the precious examples that remain
sportThe coach of Chalfont St Peter's under-10s football team was relieved of his duties after he sent an email to parents that said: 'I am only interested in winning'
techA piece of new hi-tech kit aims to get us scribbling again
indybestMake getting out of the wrong side of bed on cold winter mornings a thing of the past with our selection of night-time covers
life + styleClarissa Baldwin is the brains behind the slogan 'A Dog is for Life not just for Christmas'
Life & Style blogs
- 1 The hardwired difference between male and female brains could explain why men are 'better at map reading'
- 2 Is this the scariest advert ever? Japanese tyre commercial comes with its own disclaimer and health warning
- 3 UK chef creates world's most expensive ready meal - a fish pie costing £314
- 4 Food poverty in UK has reached level of 'public health emergency', warn experts
- 5 I’m sure Kate Moss doesn't care about posing for Playboy. But I do
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£50000 - £70000 per annum + London: Harrington Starr: Senior Automation QA Eng...
£35000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits : Harrington Starr: SQL 2008 R2/2012 Deve...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, P...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Senior QA Engineer Tes...