Newly released documents by Edward Snowden appear to show how the NSA can search through millions of peoples’ browsing histories and Facebook chats by simply filling out an online form.
Training materials for the ‘XKeyscore’ program detail how analysts fill in a simple on-screen form giving only a broad justification for the search. The request is not reviewed by a court or any NSA personnel before it is processed, according to The Guardian, which first published the documents.
One top-secret document describes how the program “searches within bodies of emails, webpages and documents”, including the “To, From, CC, BCC lines” and the ‘Contact Us’ pages on websites”.
To search for emails, an analyst using XKS enters the individual’s email address into a simple online search form, along with the “justification” for the search and the time period for which the emails are sought.
Beyond emails, the XKeyscore system allows analysts to monitor a virtually unlimited array of other internet activities, including those within social media.
An NSA tool called DNI Presenter, used to read the content of stored emails, also enables an analyst using XKeyscore to read the content of Facebook chats or private messages.
An analyst can monitor such Facebook chats by entering the Facebook user name and a date range into a simple search screen.