On Friday, the National Security Agency (NSA) released a memo claiming that it “touches” 1.6% of all Internet traffic and that just 0.025% of data is 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.”
The memo continued: “Put another way, if a standard basketball court represented the global communications environment, NSA’s total collection would be represented by an area smaller than a dime on that basketball court.”
In a Friday press conference, President Barack Obama said the PATRIOT Act “does not allow the government to listen to any phone calls without a warrant.” He also said that the United States government is not interested in “spying on ordinary people.”
Two former U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News that the NSA has previously vacuumed up the private email messages and phone calls of innocent Americans with no ties to terrorism.
The Washington Post previously reported that “NSA routinely collects a great deal of American content.” The federal government says such captures of Americans’ content is “incidental.” But the NSA’s lax nature in determining whether a target is foreign or domestic is startling. NSA agents merely enter a series of keywords and determine a 51% confidence in a target’s “foreignness” before moving forward.
“They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,” one career intelligence officer told the Washington Post.