12 Facts About NSA Surveillance That’ll Make Your Hair Stand On End
Three years after Edward Snowden’s leaks concerning the NSA surveillance methods of US citizens, Americans have continued to have mixed feelings about the programs. Many Americans are not comfortable with the surveillance techniques used by the NSA, particularly the collection of telephone and internet data. So these facts about NSA surveillance methods will keep you updated and more or less surprise you.
1 . The NSA (National Security Agency) was established for international intelligence, but they collect as much data about US citizens too. It was established in 1952 by president Harry Truman to monitor, collect, and process foreign intelligence data. They are also meant to protect the US against network warfare which is ironic because the same body now plants malware to spy on its citizens.
2. The NSA can legally monitor all phone calls within the country. This is as required under the terms of a blanket order issued by U.S telecoms demanding that the numbers of both parties involved in a call are to be handed over. Other data such as location, call duration, time of call, and other identifiers are to be handed over too. With this, it’s highly possible that the calls are also being monitored although there is no proof of this.
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3. The NSA collects data on about 3 billion phone calls daily. The metadata from the phone call as handed over by the telecoms is then stored for five years.
4. The NSA also collects as much as 200 million text messages daily. This data collection is from both US citizens and international citizens, and the data that is collected includes location, contact networks, and it goes as far as collecting credit card details.
5. Emails that are older than 6 months can be accessed without a warrant and anonymously. This is following the electronic communications privacy act which has been in play since 1987 before the personal emails were a thing.
6. The NSA has your browser history as was revealed by Edward Snowden. This is possible by a secret program called XKEYSCORE which allows the NSA to skip the paperwork that would normally be required to get your internet records. So they collect as much as 40 billion internet records daily. These records cover everything from your google searches to every website you visited and so on.
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7. In the year 2008, the NSA had over 150 data processing sites that were responsible for sifting through the mass of collected data. The sites are in the U.S, Mexico, UK, Spain, Nigeria, Russia, Somalia, Japan, Australia, Pakistan, and many other countries making up over 700 servers.
8. The NSA follows up on your social media activities even more than a stalker who is obsessed with you. The PRISM program gives them access to get information from Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and even dating platforms. Combining this with your other private data like GPS location, frequent activities, and personal contacts can give a clue of who you are with or where you are at every point in time.
9. A branch of the NSA called “follow the money” monitors international transactions. So whatever transactions you make across borders gets flagged by the agency. It mostly targets customers of big credit card companies whose information gets into NSA’s financial databank.
10. Even if you disconnect your device from the internet, it won’t stop NSA. They can still have access to your data and one of the ways they do this is by a program called NIGHTSTAND. It can attack windows computers wirelessly up to 8 miles away. SURLYSPAWN is another program that works with radio frequencies to log keystrokes even as far away as from across the street.
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11. NSA’s spying capabilities can’t be overblown. During Obama’s administration, two bodies were put in charge of evaluating the constitutionality of the agency’s surveillance policies. Both bodies gave reports of not being fully aware of the extent of NSA’s surveillance, and documents also showed that NSA misled the public about its operations.
12. As massive as the NSA network is, it hasn’t directly prevented any terrorist attack or helped in an arrest. This is a bold claim but has the backing of several pieces of research. One of such is a study of 225 counter-terrorism cases in which U.S residents were either killed before they could be charged, or indicted on the charges, only 14 of them were as a result of NSA metadata, and only one of the 14 may have been useful in preventing an attack from al-Queda in the U.S.
The NSA takes away your privacy and takes your data without your consent. They keep tabs on everything you do down to your social media accounts, so if you are one who is concerned about privacy, this is a deal-breaker. There are different ways to prevent the NSA from spying on you, and the use of a premium VPN is one of them.
LimeVPN is a good example of a VPN service that is strong enough to ensure that your online activities remain private and anonymous. They do this by providing you with a 256-bit encrypted connection, making any stolen data useless in the hands of third parties. You can also hide your location by using any of the several servers in different locations according to your preference. Their DNS/IP leaks feature prevent an accidental breach in your privacy so that at all times, your data stays safe. They don’t keep logs of your activities, so even if the NSA or other body requests for your data, they won’t be any to give.