4FourTwo: How to Protect Your Mobile Phone from Data SnoopingThe US government is investigating a widespread, ongoing and increasingly sophisticated data collection program by the National Security Agency (NSA) that allegedly taps into the phone and internet of billions of Americans.
The National Security Letter (NSL) is the main tool of the NSA to obtain data from telecoms, and its scope has been revealed by a series of leaked documents.
The NSA documents were published by Wikileaks last month.
The government alleges the NSL program targets the phone numbers of millions of Americans to collect “data” and to target Americans in specific locations to obtain it.
The program, known as PRISM, has been in the news in the US since at least September last year.
According to the documents, the NSA’s Prism program targets people and companies based in the United States, and it collects data that includes: phone numbers, email addresses, and phone and email data.
The NSL documents also allege the NSA can use the Prism program to target and collect data that is not directly linked to a foreign target, such as financial information or social media posts.
A former intelligence officer who worked for the NSA told the Associated Press that the Prism Program is akin to a “big sister” program.
The US government claims that the NLA’s program, codenamed Stellar Wind, is “unique” and “uniquely designed to target foreign intelligence targets”, and is “designed to target communications” of “U.S. persons” and that the program is aimed at helping the government “to identify foreign intelligence and counter-intelligence targets and methods”.
The documents also alleged that the NSA has “direct access” to the servers of companies that are part of the Prism surveillance program, and that “the NSA and other agencies” “have direct access to and have access to the communications of foreign intelligence sources and methods.”
The NLA program is not the only program the US government has used to collect data on its citizens.
The Obama administration also recently launched a controversial program known as the PRISM program, which is designed to gather intelligence on people and business dealings worldwide.
The Prism program was disclosed by the Intercept in October this year.
The Guardian, however, reported in January that the US Justice Department had begun investigating PRISM.
The Justice Department told the Guardian that the investigation is ongoing, and would be referred to the House intelligence committee, but it did not confirm whether the investigation had been opened or if it had reached the stage where a subpoena had been issued.
The Washington Post also reported that the Justice Department is investigating the NLC program.
But the US Department of Justice declined to comment to the Guardian.
Privacy campaigners have criticised the NELA, saying that the system could be used to target millions of innocent Americans and could allow the government to conduct mass surveillance without a warrant.