NSA files decoded: Edward Snowden's surveillance revelations explained
She doesn't like the content of it. It's one of the things that we are looking into - that nerve gas or something else disabled people. I said I represented more than plaintiffs, how am I going to dismiss this case? Retrieved 17 September India is setting up a national intelligence grid called NATGRID , [36] which would be fully set up by May where each individual's data ranging from land records, Internet logs, air and rail PNR, phone records, gun records, driving license, property records, insurance, and income tax records would be available in real time and with no oversight. Monitoring the site is easy with FlexiSpy.


Is the Government Reading Your Email?

But the intelligence agencies dismiss such claims, arguing that their programs are constitutional, and subject to rigorous congressional and judicial oversight. Secrecy, they say, is essential to meet their overriding aim of protecting the public from terrorist attacks. The debate has raged across time zones: Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff cancelled a state visit to Washington in protest at the US spying on her.

Bolivian president Evo Morales's plane was forced down in Vienna amid suspicion that Snowden was being smuggled out of Russia. In Germany, a "livid" Angela Merkel accused the US of spying on her, igniting a furore that has seen the White House concede that new constraints on the NSA's activities may be necessary. Meanwhile, in Britain, prime minister David Cameron accused the Guardian of damaging national security by publishing the revelations, warning that if it did not "demonstrate some social responsibility it would be very difficult for government to stand back and not to act".

US internet companies, their co-operation with the NSA exposed by Snowden's documents, fear a worldwide consumer backlash, and claim they were forced into co-operation by the law. Cell phones, laptops, Facebook, Skype, chat-rooms: You don't need to be talking to a terror suspect to have your communications data analysed by the NSA.

The agency is allowed to travel "three hops" from its targets — who could be people who talk to people who talk to people who talk to you. Facebook, where the typical user has friends, shows how three degrees of separation gets you to a network bigger than the population of Colorado. How many people are three "hops" from you?

But in reality, that is still a huge amount of data. The Library of Congress, one of the biggest libraries in the world, gathers 5 terabytes a month. The NSA sucks up much, much more. In order to find the needle in the haystack, they argue, they need access to the whole haystack.

Snowden recognises the value of the NSA in counter-terrorism, but thinks the spy agency has dangerously over-reached itself. He is a fugitive from US law, in exile in Russia. But the debate he wanted to start when he decided to become a whistleblower is now happening.

This is information about the time and location of a phone call or email, as opposed to the contents of those conversations or messages. The distinction forms the crux of the debate over the proper scope of NSA surveillance. The first Snowden document to be published by the Guardian was a secret court order showing that the NSA was collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers.

It is this program that has dominated US political debate since then. It does not collect the content of any communication, nor do the records include names or locations. The NSA only collects the type of information found on a telephone bill: But privacy activists critical of the NSA surveillance program vehemently disagree, arguing not only that the collection is based on a legal interpretation that goes way beyond what Congress allowed, but also that metadata includes personal information, which can build a more detailed profile even than listening into content.

Much of what the NSA does is of value to America and its friends round the world — even those it snoops on. The documents show the NSA providing vital information to American and allied forces in Afghanistan, defending the country against cyber attacks, snooping on Mexican drug cartels and helping break up worldwide criminal gangs involved in credit card theft.

But this, too, is a matter of dispute. ProPublica have factchecked the 54 plots claim here and could only find evidence of four. Eventually, deputy NSA director John Inglis conceded that, at most, one plot — which he has not specified — might have been disrupted by the bulk phone records program alone. Two factors opened the way for the rapid expansion of surveillance over the past decade: Details that in the past might have remained private were suddenly there for the taking.

In bald terms, it sets out its mission: The Snowden documents revealed the existence of Tempora , a program established in by GCHQ that gathers masses of phone and internet traffic by tapping into fiber-optic cables. As well as its upstream collection programs, the NSA also has Prism, which, according to the Snowden documents, is the biggest single contributor to its intelligence reports. When the Guardian and the Washington Post revealed the existence of Prism the companies denied all knowledge of it and insisted that any co-operation with the intelligence agencies was compelled by law.

A graphic comparing weekly reports involving the companies lists some of the Prism providers. Other companies on the list are protected by ECI covernames. This is the first time that data giving a sample of the number of intelligence records being generated per company has been published.

It shows that over the period shown, June to July , data from Yahoo generated by far the most NSA intelligence reports, followed by Microsoft, and then Google. All three companies are fighting through the courts to be allowed to release more detailed figures for the numbers of data requests they handle from US intelligence agencies.

Not all companies have complied. In a statement defending its surveillance programs, the NSA said: US service provider communications make use of the same information super highways as a variety of other commercial service providers. NSA must understand and take that into account in order to eliminate information that is not related to foreign intelligence. But some members of Congress, such as Lofgren, who represents a Silicon Valley district, are unconvinced.

She warns that the programs not only undermine individual privacy, but threaten the reputations of major American telecom and internet companies. The technology they rely on to keep that information secure — along with their emails, online shopping, banking and more — is encryption. But your data may not be as secure as you might hope.

Encrypting a message involves scrambling it through a combination of a randomly-generated key and mathematical jumbling. Internet companies have given assurances to their users about the security of communications. But the Snowden documents reveal that US and British intelligence agencies have successfully broken or circumvented much of online encryption. Much of this, the documents reveal, was not done through traditional code-cracking, but instead by making deals with the industry to introduce weaknesses or backdoors into commercial encryption — and even working to covertly undermine the international standards on which encryption relies.

Computer security experts say that by doing this in their quest to access ever more data, the intelligence agencies have compromised the computers of hundreds of millions of ordinary internet users, and undermined one their other key priorities — protecting the US and UK from cyberattacks. So is all encryption broken? Snowden, in a question-and-answer session on the Guardian website in June, said that much of the encryption is weak, so the NSA can frequently find ways round it, but there are strong crypto systems that can still be relied on.

Given that Snowden was inside the system until May, he should know. Snowden endorses a combination of Tor and PGP. Tor is a network that helps protect privacy and your physical location by providing anonymity, with volunteers bouncing communications round a network. Levison, the founder of secure email provider Lavabit, is facing a court case because he closed his company rather than hand over encryption keys.

The publication of the Verizon phone records order had one immediate political impact. It revealed that at a Senate committee hearing in March , the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, had given misleading testimony.

Clapper changed his account to say that he had simply forgotten about collection of domestic phone records. The Snowden disclosures have led many on Capitol Hill and beyond to conclude that the political and legal mechanisms necessary to hold the NSA accountable in functioning democracy are no longer fit for purpose. It was passed as part of a backlash against one of the biggest controversies of that era: Fisa codified in law for the first time that the NSA was about foreign intelligence.

If there was a suspicion about a spy or some agent of a foreign power operating in the US, the NSA and the FBI could apply for a warrant in a new surveillance court, the Fisa court.

But since then, according to Wyden, the way the laws work in practice by the intelligence agencies has become shrouded in secrecy. The Fisa Amendments Act, renewed in , allows for the collection of communications without a warrant, where at least one end of the communications is a non-US person.

The NSA legal basis — disputed — for bulk collection of Americans' phone data comes under a different law, section of the Patriot Act.

The NSA asserts that a number of laws and legal precedents justify its surveillance programs. These are a few of those key laws and precedents: What legal authorities does the NSA rely on to justify the collection of: The Fisa court and its proceedings are secret, or at least they were until the Snowden revelations.

Given this, it is nearly impossible to challenge its interpretation of the law. The government is the only petitioner before the court, with no advocates for privacy interests. The NSA argues that since that it is engaged in covert operations, it is hardly surprising that the court proceedings are secret. In response, the FISA court ordered the government to explain itself.

These documents detail this exchange as the NSA struggled to understand the business records program and ensure compliance. The Fisa court reviews applications made by the executive branch for electronic surveillance in cases related to national security. The judges are appointed by the chief justice of the US supreme court. Since the Fisa court's formation in , there have been three chief justices, all appointed by Republican presidents.

Throughout the court's existence, the demographics of the judges serving on the court have been largely homogeneous. The NSA is also subject to congressional oversight. The politicians tasked with the greatest scrutiny are the Senate and House intelligence committees. Most of these — in particular Feinstein, the Senate intelligence committee chairwoman — have tended to be staunch defenders of the NSA.

The long-term sceptics, such as Wyden and his Senate colleague Udall, have been a lonely band. Even now, they believe they face an uphill struggle to achieve meaningful reform of the NSA.

The debate Snowden wanted is happening. That in itself is a major achievement. But debate has expanded well beyond the confines of Capitol Hill, touching on individuals and groups throughout the US and elsewhere in the world. One group feeling the immediate impact is journalists and their sources.

The Snowden revelations have sent a chill through those reporters covering national security issues. If the NSA can easily gather details about who a reporter phoned or emailed, that sends a signal to whistleblowers that their anonymity can no longer be protected. A Pew poll at the end of July found that for the first time in a decade, the majority of Americans are more concerned about the government infringing on their civil liberties than about a potential terrorist attack. The shift is reflected in the change in attitudes over the past two years on a series of privacy issues.

According to a recent study , the majority of Americans believe that preserving the rights of US citizens is more important than preventing terrorist attacks. Since the NSA revelations, Americans have become more opposed to government surveillance that infringes on civil liberties.

In the end, it may be through the courts rather than Congress that genuine reform may come. If any of your communications were accidentally or incidentally collected by the NSA, they probably still exist somewhere, subject to classified minimization requirements. This is the case even after certain collection activities became illegal with the passage of the FISA Amendments Act, the governing framework for domestic collection. The act does not require the NSA to destroy the data.

If you are of Arab descent and attend a mosque whose imam was linked through degrees of association with Islamic charities considered to be supporters of terrorism, NSA computers probably analyzed metadata from your telephone communications and e-mail. Your data might have been intercepted or collected by Russia, China, or Israel if you traveled to those countries. The chances, if you are not a criminal or a terrorist, that an analyst at the NSA listened to one of your telephone conversations or read one of your e-mail messages are infinitesimally small given the technological challenges associated with the program, not to mention the lack of manpower available to sort through your irrelevant communications.

If an unintentional collection occurred an overcollect , it would be deleted and not stored in any database. From what we could figure out, only three dozen or so people inside the NSA have the authority to read the content of FISA-derived material, all of which is now subject to a warrant.

By law it cannot and does not. The FBI can, and does. What is the size of the compliance staff that monitors domestic collection? Four or five people, depending on the budget cycle.

How many people outside the NSA are privy to the full details of the program? More than one thousand. You can sue, but the government will invoke a state secrets privilege, and judges will probably agree—even when you can prove without any secret evidence that there is probable cause to believe that you were surveilled.

They do this by sampling a number of the folders at random. But if it is, and over a thousand people are involved, how much longer can that secret last? Adapted from Deep State: Is the Government Reading Your Email? BY David W Brown ,. Based on the public statements of the former director of the National Security Agency, Justice Department attorneys, and others involved in NSA operations—as well as confidential information provided to the authors and verified independently by officials read in to the programs—here is how to tell if the NSA spies on you: