Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian has revealed yet another bombshell from Edward Snowden's leak of classified NSA documents. The newest information is on a program called Xkeyscore, a comprehensive internet snooping software which allows users to see "nearly everything a typical user does on the internet", according to the NSA's own PDF explaining Xkeyscore.
The revelation of Xkeyscore lends credence to Snowden's own assertion that he had the authority to spy on anyone from a federal judge to the president, if he had a personal email. The system requires no prior approval and analysts who have access to it are only required to enter a one line legal justification in a blank field, for later auditing. According to Greenwald, these later audits usually consist of being told to "beef up the legal justification".
While the system is not a real-time keystroke logger, it can record all of the information packets coming and going from a known IP as they are transmitted. And, in turn, those IP's can be picked from traffic to and from popular websites at any time within 30 days past. With a Facebook screenname, all of a user's Facebook activity can be retrieved, including private messages, for the same period.
The system takes advantage of 500 servers located around the world, arranged into scalable Linux clusters. While the White House claims Xkeyscore has not been abused, even director of national intelligence James Clapper "acknowledged that NSA analysts have exceeded even legal limits as interpreted by the NSA in domestic surveillance."
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