The NSA is turning the internet into a total surveillance system
Now we know all Americans’ international email is searched and saved, we can see how far the ‘collect it all’ mission has gone
Alexander Abdo and Patrick Toomey
Sunday 11 August 2013
Another burst of sunlight permeated the National Security Agency’s black box of domestic surveillance last week.
According to the New York Times, the NSA is searching the content of virtually every email that comes into or goes out of the United States without a warrant. To accomplish this astonishing invasion of Americans’ privacy, the NSA reportedly is making a copy of nearly every international email. It then searches that cloned data, keeping all of the emails containing certain keywords and deleting the rest – all in a matter of seconds.
If you emailed a friend, family member or colleague overseas today (or if, from abroad, you emailed someone in the US), chances are that the NSA made a copy of that email and searched it for suspicious information.
The NSA appears to believe this general monitoring of our electronic communications is justified because the entire process takes, in one official’s words, “a small number of seconds”. Translation: the NSA thinks it can intercept and then read Americans’ emails so long as the intrusion is swift, efficient and silent.
That is not how the fourth amendment works.
Whether the NSA inspects and retains these messages for years, or only searches through them once before moving on, the invasion of Americans’ privacy is real and immediate. There is no “five-second rule” for fourth amendment violations: the US constitution does not excuse these bulk searches simply because they happen in the blink of an eye.