Another analysis of the documents delivered to the public by Edward Snowden has uncovered a new, highly classified method that the NSA uses. With it, they can divert the online traffic of US citizens that is usually well protected and safeguarded. So, by doing this, they can collect data belonging to the Americans.
In order to prevent domestic surveillance, the Congress has put in place multiple protection on the global communication cables that carry the internet. The NSA analyzed them, and found the way of diverting portions of the ‘internet river’. The NSA has already been accused of this in 2014, when two researchers, Sharon Goldberg and Axel Arnbak published their paper in which they claim this.
Back then, they accused the NSA of spying on Americans, instead of producing the intelligence on their targets from overseas.
Accessing the US citizens’ data and putting them under surveillance is against the rules of FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance) Court. This is a guarantee that the citizens won’t be spied on. However, the NSA has collected this data outside of the US, which seems to be making a significant difference when it comes to what is allowed and what is not.
Also, thanks to the Executive Order 12333 that was signed by Ronald Reagan in 1981, the NSA technically has the authority to collect info on domestic targets, as well as foreign. The order allows much more than FISA.
Another whistleblower Bill Binney said once that the executive order is used by the intelligence agencies when it comes to conducting surveillance that other laws don’t permit.
Since this new technique is pretty unknown because of its highly classified nature, it is also unknown how much can the NSA pick up on, or how much they have already collected. All that can be said for certain is that they are more than capable of bypassing restrictions due to their legal powers.
They basically have the ability, as well as permission, to collect any data that can be treated as overseas communication. And all that is left to do is to send this data overseas, which is what diverting of data does. They simply change the route which data follows, and they will then have all they need in order to collect it and analyze it.
However, they still need to send the data through friendly territories, otherwise, not even they themselves won’t be able to access it and monitor it.
So, if the NSA wants to collect an email that one US citizen sent to another, they can’t. Instead, they have to make the data taka a longer route around and leave American soil. Only then can they officially collect it as a part of data that is leaving the country.
The research has shown several methods that the NSA uses in order to do this. One of them includes hacking routers and doing it the sneaky way. The other is forcing ISPs and telecoms to do it for them, and automatically send data outside of the US.
At the same time, this is all just one giant FISA loophole that makes it almost completely legal and allowed. Since the internet changes a lot even in the shortest period of time, the laws and legislations that are currently protecting the US citizens are way too old and outdated to be effective.
Americans are using the internet to communicate now, and this new-age form of communication demands the same level of protection like the earlier ones. Luckily, the law governing the NSA’s use of data collection will expire this year. Congress should take this opportunity to eliminate loopholes and fix up the law in order to truly starts protecting its citizens.