A secret NSA slide-show presentation leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden and published by Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian introduce the world to the most intrusive program yet revealed: XKeyscore.
With XKeyscore, according to Snowden, analysts can sift through virtually all citizens’ browsing histories, emails and online chats. Snowden told the Guardian, “I, sitting at my desk..[could] wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email.”
The most shocking things revealed by the leaked slides are:
• XKeyscore allows the monitoring of Facebook chats or private messages
• XKeyscore allows government analysts or contractors the ability to search within a massive archive of emails for content, webpages, documents, and even, “To, From, CC, BCC lines”
• In order to search through these emails an analyst simply has to, “enter[s] the individual’s email address into a simple online search form, along with the ‘justification’ for the search and the time period for which the emails are sought.”
You can see the slides for yourself here.
How This is Different From the PRISM Revelations
The PRISM program, which was revealed in a similar set of slides earlier this year by Edward Snowden and published in the Guardian, demonstrates how the NSA compelled websites and internet service providers to hand over information.
Using the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court, the NSA was able to legally compel companies like Google or Facebook to hand over internet user data.
As the threads are slowly woven, people following the revelations can piece together the all-encompassing tapestry that is the NSA surveillance network. Every program revealed tightens the weave so that no information can go untouched by the government. PRISM provides information directly collected by specific websites, and now XKeyscore allows the government to search through the more private/content driven data.
According to the Guardian story about the program, the chairman of the House intelligence committee Republican Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI) has denied that that government is capable of these feats saying of Snowden, “He’s lying. It’s impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do.”