Federal Officials are Monitoring your Email, Messages & Video - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Federal Officials are Monitoring your Email, Messages & Video

Federal Officials are Monitoring your Email, Messages & Video

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On Friday it was revealed it's not just Verizon customers that are being watched, but the National Security Agency has also put surveillance on Google, Facebook, and Microsoft traffic, just to name a few. As Valley News teams Eric Crest explains, the tracking has been active for longer than you'd think.

It goes much deeper than we initially thought. The NSA isn't just looking into Verizon customers and their phone records. The NSA also has ties to nine major internet companies. They've had access to emails, photos, and documents and our representatives have known about it all along.

"The kinds of things you are talking about are not stored or kept. And the only data being mined is data that needs to be mined for national security," said Minnesota Senator Al Franken.

But just ask the law experts and they'll be the first to tell you that this news, isn't new. Aaron Ley an Associate Professor or Political Science at UND says the government has had rights that exceed what we're likely comfortable with for some time, "for instance certain Federal Agencies are allowed to put into place wire taps and key logger devices. So if you're typing on your computer it would record information of what your typing."

Since 2001 and the passing of the Patriot Act our presidents have been pushing for more and more freedom, to do what "they" deem necessary. All under the guise of our freedoms staying intact.

"It doesn't matter if we have a Democrat or Republican president. If they're sitting in the Executive Branch you're going to see them trying to expand executive authority to do these types of things," says Ley.

Before 2007, the government was required to show probable cause to a judge before hacking into an account. But with the Patriot Act in full swing that warrant isn't needed anymore. They just need the cooperation of big internet companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, Skype, and even Youtube to gather information they deem suspicious or a danger to national security.

"One of the things is a lot of these programs operate in secrecy. But in 2001 when congress passed the Patriot Act they authorized things that they weren't able to before," says Ley.

The National Security Agency describes the program utilizing those big internet companies as the biggest contributor to President Obama's daily briefings. It accounts for one in seven of the intelligence reports that hits the president's desk.


Original Story....


 The controversy over government snooping is widens. Records are being kept on every phone call and now word is released that your Internet activities are being monitored. Overnight, the director of national intelligence weighed in on the government's secret surveillance programs in order to quiet some of the uproar.

Sources familiar with the programs confirm to NBC News that the National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the computer servers of some of the biggest names in the Internet. The Washington Post reports they include Apple, Google and Facebook.

The secret programs' code names: PRISM and BLARNEY. Late Thursday, SOME of the companies named in the Post story responded, insisting they don't provide any government agency with direct access to their servers.

The Obama Administration defends the practice as a critical tool to protect the country -- providing what a senior Administration official called "among the most important and valuable intelligence information we collect." Sources say it's intended to cover communications that originate outside the U-S, or from the U-S to a foreign country. Administration officials say the program does NOT allow the targeting of any U-S citizen or anyone within the U.S. 

The revelation follows news of another secret program where, under the post-9/11 Patriot Act, the government is compiling an enormous database of phone records -- collecting details on every call made in America, not only foreign calls... but no names, and no listening in. 
Glenn Greenwald broke the story and says, "there is this massive surveillance state that the United States government has built up that has extraordinary implications for how you live as human beings on this earth and as Americans in our country." 
Outrage exploded across Twitter. "I'll save you all some time: I'm not a terrorist," one wrote. But, the House and Senate Intelligence chairs say the secret program's already foiled terrorist plots within the U-S. The director of national intelligence James Clapper says the classified program was authorized by all three branches of government... adding that its disclosure of the phone records program "...threatens potentially long-lasting and irreversible harm to our ability to identify and respond to the many threats facing our nation." 
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