7/01/2013

More information on how Obama expanded NSA data collection

The Obama administration not only expanded the collection of data, but it also greatly expanded how long the Federal government could keep that information.  Here is one very simple (if very incomplete) measure of how the data collection has expanded over time from the Washington Post:



More information is available here on how just one change "doubled" what had already been a greatly expanded amount of information obtained by the NSA:
New reports from The Guardian show that a discontinued NSA program which collected vast amounts of foreign and domestic internet data has been replaced by more expansive programs under the Obama administration. The new surveillance capabilities, implemented by the NSA's Special Source Operations (SSO) directorate, have "doubled" the agency's data intake since being installed, according to a top secret memo obtained by The Guardian
The newest program, code name "EvilOlive," was introduced in December of 2012 and is aimed at "broadening the scope" of what the NSA can collect under its authority granted by the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. Like the program it replaced, EvilOlive and a second program called "ShellTrumpet" capture sensitive internet metadata — such as email logs, web browsing histories, and IP addresses, which can reveal location information — but not the content of email communications. According to the memo, ShellTrumpet "processed its one trillionth metadata record" in December 2012. The document states that "almost half" of those trillion records were processed in 2012 alone. . . . 
The NSA documents also reveal the existence of several other new programs, including a joint surveillance operation with an unnamed partner agency used to "query metadata" which was "turned on in Fall 2012." Two other programs called "MoonLightPath" and "Spinnaret" are also set to go online in September 2013. Another entry indicates that "Transient Thurible," a metadata collection effort from British partner agency GCHQ, has been "flowing into NSA repositories since 13 August 2012." . . .
Here is something from the New York Times about how long the data could be kept:
Indeed, an obscure passage in one of the Snowden documents — rules for collecting Internet data that the Obama administration wrote in secret in 2009 and that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved — suggested that the government was concerned about its ability to process all the data it was collecting. So it got the court to approve an exception allowing the government to hold on to that information if it could not keep up. The rules said that “the communications that may be retained” for up to five years “include electronic communications acquired because of the limitation on the N.S.A.’s ability to filter communications.” 
As one private expert who sometimes advises the N.S.A. on this technology put it: “This means that if you can’t desalinate all the seawater at once, you get to hold on to the ocean until you figure it out.” . . .

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