THE UNITED STATES National Security Agency (NSA) apparently has been collecting email contact lists like some sort of hungry social network.
According to information shared with the Washington Post, the NSA collects email contact and chat buddy lists globally by the millions. This is the first time that the contact lists data collection has been reported and the Washington Post said that it includes more information than phone call metadata.
"Address books commonly include not only names and e-mail addresses, but also telephone numbers, street addresses, and business and family information," reported the newspaper.
"Inbox listings of e-mail accounts stored in the 'cloud' sometimes contain content, such as the first few lines of a message."
According to one official the lists come from people from all over the world, who said the agency gets them from foreign contact points. This means that the surveillance is not covered by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and that the NSA does not have to notify providers.
"The assumption is you're not a US person," said an unnamed insider. Another added that checks and balances that protect US citizens' privacy are included.
The biggest source apparently is Yahoo, and the Washington Post said that the NSA "collects more than twice as many address books from Yahoo than the other big services combined."
Microsoft, Google and Facebook all told the Washington Post that they have no knowledge of such a system. According to the report Yahoo said that it would encrypt communications from now on. µ