The NSA Has Taken Over the Internet Backbone. We’re Suing to Get It Back.
Blow off Snowden all you like, but what was revealed to be true is still true. The NSA lacks oversight with power. FISA is already too much and now they casually exceed even that generous provision.
The world first learned of the existence of upstream surveillance from whistleblower Edward Snowden’s spying revelations in June 2013. Since then, official disclosures and media reports have shown that the NSA is routinely seizing and copying the communications of millions of ordinary Americans while they are traveling over the Internet. The NSA conducts this surveillance by tapping directly into the Internet backbone inside the United States - the network of high-capacity cables and switches that carry vast numbers of Americans’ communications with each other and with the rest of the world. Once the NSA copies the communications, it searches the contents of almost all international text-based communications - and many domestic ones as well - for search terms relating to its “targets.”
In short, the NSA has cast a massive dragnet over Americans’ international communications.
Inside the United States, upstream surveillance is conducted under a controversial spying law called the FISA Amendments Act, which allows the NSA to target the communications of foreigners abroad and to intercept Americans’ communications with those foreign targets. The main problem with the law is that it doesn’t limit which foreigners can be targeted. The NSA’s targets may include journalists, academics, government officials, tech workers, scientists, and other innocent people who are not connected even remotely with terrorism or suspected of any wrongdoing. The agency sweeps up Americans’ communications with all of those targets.
And, as our lawsuit explains, the NSA is exceeding even the authority granted by the FISA Amendments Act. Rather than limit itself to monitoring Americans’ communications with the foreign targets, the NSA is spying on everyone, trying to find out who might be talking or reading about those targets.