X-Keyscore, Or “How NSA Knows All About Your Blog Visitors, Your Emails, And Your Life”

From today’s edition of The Guardian:

A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The NSA boasts in training materials that the program, called XKeyscore, is its “widest-reaching” system for developing intelligence from the internet.

The scope of the revelations and the collection activities they describe are validating in chilling detail the warning Senator Frank Church gave us nearly 40 years ago:

The National Security Agency’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A. could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.

He was wrong about onetwo things. First, it’s not a Stalin-like dictator who unleashed these programs, but two elected U.S. presidents from different parties who took the same oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”. And second, those same technologies Church feared have also enabled a global army of digital liberty activists to strike back…and in the end that global army is going to repeal the Surveillance State.

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