By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
Last month, Edward Snowden exposed a shocking story about the National Security Agency (NSA) to The Guardian. According to their report, the NSA was secretly demanding that Verizon Wireless – a large phone company – hand over private information about customers. Alright, old news right? Especially considering that the US government’s been monitoring us since the 1890s. Well, now The Guardian reports that phone records aren’t the only thing being actively tracked by the NSA.
Apparently, the NSA uses a top-secret computer program called XKeyscore, which allows the agency to watch almost anything someone is doing on their computer. It’s not even hard to do. Just by filling out a short form on their computer screen, an NSA worker can gain access to private information in seconds!
“I [could], sitting at my desk… wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the President, if I had a personal e-mail,” said Snowden last month. Geez, if that’s true, even the President of the United States can be watched! I can’t imagine President Barack Obama would want some low-ranking government contractor like Snowden to have access to his computer files. So, how the heck does XKeyscore supposedly have permission to do this?
According to Snowden, if the NSA wanted to see a person’s internet history, they usually needed to get a special warrant. However, the NSA has a list of people who might be a threat to American citizens, and if anyone is found contacting a person on this list, then the NSA doesn’t need a warrant to track their activities.
“XKeyscore is used as a part of NSA’s lawful… collection system,” the agency said, “[claims] of… unchecked… access… are simply not true.”
Currently, Snowden is hiding out in Russia with the aid of the WikiLeaks organization. However, considering how the infamous WikiLeaks leaker Bradley Manning was recently convicted of charges that could send him to prison for up to 20 years, such protection may not be all that comforting. One thing’s for sure though. The more information that Snowden leaks to the public, the more crimes the US can add to his espionage record.
Featured image courtesy of The Guardian, Edward Snowden, and the NSA.