20 Things We Know About NSA Surveillance

20 Things We Know About NSA Surveillance

By Daphne Holmes, Guest Writer

Even Edward Snowden himself may not have anticipated the worldwide firestorm his revelations about NSA surveillance would spark. In 2013, the computer systems contractor stunned world leaders by releasing thousands of classified documents he had accumulated while working as an NSA analyst. Exposing the sensitive documents immediately undermined Snowden’s position in the U.S, prompting the alleged traitor to seek asylum anywhere he could get it. Eventually, Snowden was granted temporary asylum in Russia, where he remains.

The impacts of Snowden’s move continue to ripple through the intelligence community, so it is yet unknown how damaging the now-public information will be to the NSA and American Government. At the very least; however, Snowden shed light on a host of NSA tactics most people were unaware of. While it is only a partial accounting; we now know the following things about NSA surveillance.


Monitor Telephone Call Specifics – Dates, times, locations, telephone numbers and even the duration of calls is fair game under this NSA program, which recently came to light over court orders granting Verizon phone records to administration officials.

Track Social Media Relationships – Since 2010, NSA surveillance efforts include sophisticated monitoring of social connections. Initially used to track connections between suspected terrorists and United States citizens, monitoring social links has expanded to include a wide network of associations.

Break Computer Encryption – The NSA continues to advance its code-cracking capabilities with innovations like a supercomputer being designed for the task.

Monitor World Leaders – In a rare example of government agencies working together, the NSA monitors numbers provided by government staffers working in departments with access to important contact numbers for world leaders.

Spy on the United Nations – NSA surveillance included keeping tabs on UN communications through the organization’s video conferencing system.

Follow International Payments – Financial data from VISA and other payment processors is regularly monitored by the NSA; especially international transactions.

Intercept Texts – Text messaging has quickly risen to prominence as a preferred mode of communication, so the NSA keeps tabs on texts.

Track Personal Emails – NSA staffers used massive databases to access personal email communications with international participants.

Monitor Browsing Habits – As part of its wide-reaching online surveillance, NSA has access to databases detailing Web browsing histories for millions of users.

Spy Using Embassies – Though it betrays convention and some countries laws, NSA devices allow users to track communications and individuals remotely, perhaps from embassies in host countries.

Fake Social Media Profiles – In addition to monitoring and linking social media users, NSA surveillance has used false social media profiles to gain access to information.

Alter Hardware – NSA information gathering included intercepting shipments of computers bought online by surveillance targets, before altering them to provide intelligence.

Monitor Airport Communications – Data provided by NSA spying includes intercepted transmissions between planes and airport officials.

Spy on Americans Without a Warrant – This has been denied in every imaginable way, but the ‘foreign-only’ spy policy has plenty of loopholes that keep Americans in the NSA’s data collection pool.

Engage in Online Gaming – In addition to social media, emails, texts and other web-based activities, the NSA infiltrated games like World of Warcraft in the name of national security.

Work with Private Partners – Information giants like Microsoft and others acknowledge furnishing privileged access to personal data for NSA surveillance efforts.

Share Information with Israel – Personal information gleaned by NSA spies is conveyed directly to Israel.

Monitor Foreign Media – NSA documents revealed by Edward Snowden detailed NSA efforts to spy on Al Jazeera and other foreign media outlets.

Collects Images OnlineMillions of images are reviewed by the NSA daily, including many photos of faces to be paired with facial recognition technology for identification.

Target Mobile Apps – Personal information was gleaned by the NSA through popular mobile apps like Angry Birds.

The fallout from revelations about NSA surveillance continues to reverberate across the world. While the leaks’ long-term impact on international relations is yet to be seen, first-hand disclosures about NSA spying have opened the world’s eyes to the agency’s capabilities and ambitions.


Daphne Holmes contributed this guest post. She is a writer from www.ArrestRecords.com and you can reach her at daphneholmes9@gmail.com.


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