December 7, 2013
In defense of the National Security Agency (NSA) spy programs, Vanee Vines, spokesperson for the NSA said : “This collection does not violate FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act). It is not ubiquitous. NSA does not know and cannot track the location of every cell phone. This capability has been used in some of the most dangerous parts of the world, including war zones, where terrorists are actively planning to do harm to the nation.”
President Obama has proposed limitations on NSA surveillance; while also defending the spy programs as being “more aggressive” in foreign nations.
Obama said: “I’ll be proposing some self-restraint on the NSA, and to initiate some reforms that can give people more confidence. The NSA actually does a very good job about not engaging in domestic surveillance, not reading people’s emails, not listening to the contents of their phone calls. Outside of our borders, the NSA’s more aggressive. It’s not constrained by laws.”
The president commented that while whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leaks have raised “legitimate cause for concern”, he stated that portions of the stories have “also been highly sensationalized.”
Obama asserted that “the people at the NSA, generally, are looking out for the safety of the American people. They are not interested in reading your emails. They’re not interested in reading your text messages. And we’ve got a big system of checks and balances, including the courts and Congress, who have the capacity to prevent that from happening.”
In June of this year, Snowden released documents to the Guardian and the Washington Post about the PRISM program.
The Boundless Informant PowerPoint presentation was unveiled that showed how the NSA track targets in real-time.
Snowden showed how the NSA hacked into civilian networks in Hong Kong.
Details about surveillance operations on heads of state at the 2009 G20 Summit were exposed.
It was later shown that Germany was a willing participant with the NSA in handing over information to their data collection network.
Project Chess was brought to light. This involved Skype and their secret program to make Skype calls easily accessible to members of law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
Programs wherein massive amounts of metadata are collected by the NSA were revealed. Most notably, Shell Trumpet and Transient Thumble.
Snowden showed how the Obama administration has participated in project Stellar Wind; a program to collect internet metadata initiated under former George W. Bush.
Der Spiegel published Snowden provided documents about how the NSA spies on an estimated 500 million data connections in a month. This surveillance operation focused on partners with the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
The NSA spied on telephone data of foreign citizens through partnerships with telecom corporations.
Upstream is another NSA program that siphons data from fiber optic cables.