More information released by Edward Snowden and reported over the weekend by The New York Times shows that the NSA is tapping into "material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data." That information is added to our e-mails and phone call "metadata." From all these sources, the Times reports, is created a "portrait of an individual, one that is perhaps more complete and predictive of behavior than could be obtained by listening to phone conversations or reading e-mails, experts say."
The story, by veteran surveillance reporter James Risen and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, creates a picture of an agency able to know intimate details about our lives, details that pierce usual protections of privacy. The agency might know, for example, our friends and associates and where we’ve been. It might have “clues to religious or political affiliations.” It may “pick up sensitive information like regular calls to a psychiatrist’s office, late-night messages to an extramarital partner or exchanges with a fellow plotter.”
The Times reported the Snowden material included “A series of agency PowerPoint presentations and memos [that] describe how the N.S.A. has been able to develop software and other tools — one document cited a new generation of programs that ‘revolutionize’ data collection and analysis — to unlock as many secrets about individuals as possible.”
Read the full New York Times story.