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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/21/13

NSA Spokesman Accidentally Admits that the Government Is Spying On Virtually All Americans

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NSA Spying:  A Matter of Degree

We have long noted that the government is spying on just about everything we do.

The NSA has pretended that it only spies on a small number of potential terrorists. But NSA Deputy Director John C. Inglis inadvertently admitted that the NSA could spy on just about all Americans.  Inglis told Congress last week that the agency conducts  "three-hop" analysis.

Three-hop (also known as "three degree") analysis means:

The government can look at the phone data of a suspected terrorist, plus the data of all of the contacts, then all of those people's contacts, and all of those people's contacts.

This means that a lot of people could be caught up in the dragnet:

If the average person calls 40 unique people, three-hop analysis could allow the government to mine the records of 2.5 million Americans when investigating one suspected terrorist.

Given that there are now approximately 875,000 people in the government's database of suspected terrorists -- including many thousands of Americans -- every single American living on U.S. soil could easily be caught up in the dragnet.

For example, 350 million Americans divided by 2.5 million Americans caught up in dragnet for each suspected terrorist, means that a mere 140 potential terrorists could lead to spying on all Americans. There are tens of thousands of Americans listed as suspected terrorists ... including just about anyone who protests anything that the government or big banks do.

As the Electronic Frontier Foundation notes:

"According to an unusually blunt Senate investigation of so-called "fusion centers" released last month, the TIDE [i.e. suspected terrorist] database is also full of information of innocent people that have nothing to do with terrorism. The report gave examples of: a TIDE profile of a person whom the FBI had already cleared of any connection to terrorism, a TIDE profile of a two-year old-boy, and even a TIDE profile of Ford Motor Company."

ARS Technica reports:

"When the first revelations about the National Security Agency's (NSA) widespread collection of phone call metadata and Internet traffic began to surface, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham noted that for those not talking to terrorists on the phone, 'We don't have anything to worry about. I'm glad that activity is going on, but it is limited to tracking people who are suspected to be terrorists and who they may be talking to.'

"Turns out the data collection is not so limited. In testimony yesterday before the House Judiciary Committee, National Security Agency Deputy Director Chris Inglis said that the NSA's probing of data in search of terrorist activity extended 'two to three hops' away from suspected terrorists. Previously, NSA leaders had said surveillance was limited to only two 'hops' from a suspect.

"If you've ever played 'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon' or used LinkedIn to try to reach someone professionally, you know how small the world of interconnected contacts can be. When you use big data tools to mine for relationships, the world gets even smaller. That third hop in connections greatly expands the probability of innocent people worldwide being scooped up into the NSA's surveillance machine to include a good-sized share of American citizens -- citizens who Senator Graham said 'don't have anything to worry about.'


"By reading this article, you're one hop from me -- and three hops from [Afghan President] Hamid Karzai.

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