Spying on You Is a Team Sport

Saturday, August 17, 2019
By Paul Martin

By Chris Mishevski
AUGUST 16, 2019

Most people know that the NSA spies on Americans thanks to the revelations by Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers. But the NSA is just the tip of the surveillance iceberg. State, local and federal agencies have joined together the create a massive surveillance-state using a vast array of intrusive technology.

Federal intelligence agencies, including the NSA, CIA and DEA, collect data without a warrant, analyze it to build profiles on its targets and encourages state and local law enforcement to violate our fundamental right to privacy.

Documents obtained by Reuters in 2013 discussed NSA data sharing with state and local law enforcement. The NSA, passes information through the DEA’s Special Operations Division and it’s not about national security as we are told. They are being used domestically for criminal investigations. In 2013, these are the Snowden leaks, The Washington Post reported the NSA is gathering 5 billion records a day on the locations of cellphones worldwide. This includes data on tens of millions of Americans each year- all without a warrant. In 2018, the Statistical Transparency Report Regarding Use of National Security Authorities showed that the government intercepted metadata from more than 500 million Americans in 2017; a 300 percent increase from 2016.

The three main authorities for surveillance are Section 215 PATRIOT, Section 702 FISA, and Executive Order 12333. Section 215 was passed after 9/11 and allows the NSA to gather “any tangible thing” from third parties relevant to foreign intelligence. This includes bulk data on Americans as well: phone calls, data and texts. Police were granted new, sweeping surveillance powers to “fight terrorism” following 09/11 events. Whatever the cause of the events, the result is a suspect society where you have to prove your innocence and the monitoring of everything we do in real-time.

Section 702 FISA was passed in 2008 to legalize GW Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program and deals with internet traffic data. EO12333 was issued in 1981 and serves as the primary authority for spying. It governs electronic surveillance that the NSA conducts overseas and allows bulk collection of Americans metadata. Keep in mind this is only what we know publicly. There are likely many other spying tools we do not know about. For example, automatic license plate readers were in place years before it was public knowledge and in the case of Section 702 FISA that law legalized an already active wiretapping program.

A note on 215: in 2013, Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA was using this authority to collect American’s phone records in bulk. In 2015, the Freedom Act replaced 215 so that the NSA can gather phone data on suspected terrorists. It’s not just phone calls that are being gathered. Section 702 allows the FBI and other agencies to use bulk data collected during surveillance of foreign targets in domestic cases. Section 702, under downstream surveillance U.S. intelligence agencies go to tech companies like google and force the companies to turn over data on identified selectors, which are very broad. In upstream surveillance, the NSA partners such as AT&T tap into fiber optic cables and copy the internet traffic data.


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