NSA has been at the heart of a huge debate about digital privacy for the past year or so. A new report now suggests that the agency collects millions of images per day from the web for use in facial recognition to find intelligence targets.
The scary aspect of the surveillance technologies used by NSA is that no data seems safe. The agency is apparently able to tap into the images contained in emails, text messages, documents, social media and a whole plethora of other sources. This is made possible with the help of a sophisticated software, one of the many such tools that NSA uses.
The revelations come courtesy of a batch of classified documents acquired by New York Times. One of the documents describes the intent quite well, “It’s not just the traditional communications we’re after: It’s taking a full-arsenal approach that digitally exploits the clues a target leaves behind in their regular activities on the net to compile biographic and biometric information” that can help “implement precision targeting.”
This, here, is the same philosophy that has been the base of nearly all previous NSA surveillance technologies made public by Edward Snowden. It follows the argument that every bit of data generated by every one must be in the hands of the agency, so that it can create intelligence reports by connecting the dots in all this data. In doing so, the agency says, if it has to sift through the private data of everyone, so be it.
Whether or not this data can then be misused is a question not even the Congressmen can answer without a degree of uncertainty. Naturally, the NSA spokesperson responding to this latest report dished out the regular statement that the agency complies with the US laws in its operations. It is worth noting that the statement is in contradiction to several portions of NSA’s surveillance strategy which have roused controversy, both locally and globally.