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NSA Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens The New York Times (09/28/13) James Risen; Laura Poitras

 In November 2010, the National Security Agency started exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans' social networks, according to newly discovered documents and interviews with officials. The computer analysis of such data, which was designed to "discover and track" connections between intelligence targets overseas and people in the United States, previously was permitted only for foreigners because of concerns about infringing on the privacy of American citizens. However, a January 2011 NSA memorandum authorized the agency to conduct "large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of communications metadata without having to check foreignness" of every email address, phone number, or other identifier. In addition, NSA can enhance the communications data with material from public, commercial, and other sources, such as bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration, and global positioning system location information, according to documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden. NSA officials declined to reveal which phone and email databases are used to create the social network diagrams, and Snowden's documents do not specify them. NSA also will not disclose how many U.S. citizens have been monitored, but an agency spokeswoman notes that "all of NSA's work has a foreign intelligence purpose."



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