The NSA whistleblower who guessed exactly what was going on, six months ago

June 6, 2013
June 6, 2013

Last December in an interview with Russia Today (video above), former NSA crypto-mathematician William Binney disclosed the extent to which he believed the US government was not only capable of, but actively engages in spying on internet data and web activity across the country. Binney said that the FBI has access to the emails of everyone in the US, holds a target list and monitors every email to and from those contained on the list.

If the interview was alarming in its suggestion then, it’s downright scary considering this evening’s report from the Washington Post and the Guardian that the US government has allegedly been mining data from eight of the world’s largest internet companies, including Google, Apple, Microsoft and others. (The report mentions nine companies; one of them, YouTube, is part of Google.)

Here’s some of what Binney guessed at back in December:

The FBI has access to the data collected, which is basically the emails of everybody in the country.

…This can happen to anyone. If become a target for whatever reason, if they’re targeted by the government, the government can go in–or the FBI or other agencies of the government can go into that database and pull all that data they’ve collected over the years and reanalyze it all, retroactively analyze everything they’ve done. Over the last 10 years at least.

…It’s everybody.

If Binney erred at all, it was merely in underestimating the reach of the government’s surveillance, which, if the report is to be believed, is capable of not only tracking emails, but a person’s movements and contacts over time.

Here’s some of what the Washington Post reported this evening:

The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time.

The highly classified program, code-named PRISM, has not been disclosed publicly before.

The technology companies, which participate knowingly in PRISM operations, include most of the dominant global players of Silicon Valley. They are listed on a roster that bears their logos in order of entry into the program: “Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.”

Read: Twitter boosts its privacy cred with its absence from NSA surveillance program

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