From the Guardian:
“A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
This program can get nearly everything anyone can do on the internet: emails, browsing history, Facebook and IM chats, etc. The scope of the program is so large that at some sites they receive as much as 20 terabytes of data per day. That’s as much information as the entire printed collection of the Library of Congress. In fact, it’s so much information that they usually can’t hold on to it for more than a day or two because there is simply no room to store it all. As for the oversight for this massive program, Snowden claims that NSA searches are “rarely questioned” and that when they are “it’s usually along the lines of: ‘let’s bulk up the justification’.”
Like I’ve said before, my main problem with what the NSA is doing is that it is ripe for abuse. When you have the ability to gather pretty much anything on anybody, somebody is going to use it for the wrong reasons. Now that doesn’t mean these programs need to be done away with completely. However, they need to be reformed and more effective safe guards for the privacy of Americans have to be put in place before these programs should be allowed to continue.
Clearly the most egregious detail to come out of this is the fact that the NSA can get full access to the online activities anyone in this country (or around the world) “clicking a few simple pull-down menus designed to provide both legal and targeting justifications.” I understand that the NSA has to do what is has to do, but can we have it so that getting unlimited access to the private lives of millions of Americans is not like ordering a book on Amazon?