The National Security Agency has been searching emails and texts of Americans who mention foreigners under surveillance to overseas contacts, according to a new report out today.
This New York Times story widens the scope of what the NSA has previously acknowledged about its spying program, first outed as Prism by former government analyst Edward Snowden.
Previously, officials have admitted to the warrantless collection of metadata from communications of Americans, but only those who are in direct contact with foreigners targeted in other countries.
"It is also casting a far wider net for people who cite information linked to those foreigners, like a little used e-mail address, according to a senior intelligence official," wrote the Times.
This text message will self destruct in 30 seconds
The NSA is copying and searching through nearly all cross-border communications, according to the Times' unnamed senior intelligence sources.
The reason for the comprehensive nature of the program is said to be because fiber-optic internet connections break messages down into tiny packets and send them flying through cyberspace at the speed of light.
That means messages need to be collected in mass and reassembled, said computer scientists to the paper.
Communications that are reassembled, but don't raise alarms through keyword-analyzing computers are said to be deleted by the government analysts, reassured to the intel sources.
That's good news, because no government computer analyst has ever stored and leaked private NSA information before. Right?