In June, when the huge kerfluffle hit about the NSA information grab, questions were raised about collection of email. Barack Obama went out of his way to say that the “email collecting program did not apply to US citizens or people living in the United States”.
This was, of course, demonstrably untrue, as we learned this week, after it was revealed that the NSA had been collecting hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal email and instant messaging accounts around the world, many of them belonging to Americans.
This information, which reveals who you talk to and the social networks that you maintain is in some ways even more troubling as it reveals even more about you than does the telephone meta data. Of course, such information is useful in the process of hunting terrorist connections. However, one might see how it also could be used to amass “connection lists” on people for political purposes if one were so inclined, or that it could be used to assess your interests and involvement in various activities. Given this administration’s proclivity for using the arms of the government to attack those who question, from Tea Party groups to journalists, this can give one pause.
So how do they get away with this, since the “F” in FISA is supposed to mean “Foreign”, that this type of surveillance is supposed to be limited to foreigners, and not Americans? It depends on what “is” means…
As is noted in the following video, many of the servers containing the lists are located oversees. So when the servers transfer that information to the people in the U.S. that is when the NSA grabs it, because it is from a “foreign server”: