New report from the Snowden leaks by Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani. The main points are:
During a single day last year, the NSA’s Special Source Operations branch collected 444,743 e-mail address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and 22,881 from unspecified other providers, according to an internal NSA PowerPoint presentation. Those figures, described as a typical daily intake in the document, correspond to a rate of more than 250 million per year.
The NSA has not been authorized by Congress or the special intelligence court that oversees foreign surveillance to collect contact lists in bulk, and senior intelligence officials said it would be illegal to do so from facilities in the United States. The agency avoids the restrictions in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by intercepting contact lists from access points “all over the world,” one official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a classified program. “None of those are on U.S. territory.”
They want the contact lists so that they can do network analysis, as they do with PRISM collection. What’s interesting is that this is a bulk sweep that is rather indiscriminate and only approved by the President. Not even a faux-court here, just the office of the President.
At the very least, the NSA could take care of the SPAM problem for all of us:
Spam has proven to be a significant problem for NSA — clogging databases with data that holds no foreign intelligence value. The majority of all e-mails, one NSA document says, “are SPAM from ‘fake’ addresses and never ‘delivered’ to targets.”
They took out a nuclear reactor with code, and they can’t take out the fucking spammers for us?