Journalist and blogger Glenn Greenwald and colleague Ewen MacAskill released a new round of top secret National Security Agency documents via the Guardian, Saturday afternoon, this time concerning one of the NSA’s data-mining tools, “Boundless Informant.” According to the newspaper’s latest revelation, Boundless Informant “…details and even maps by country the voluminous amount of information it collects from computer and telephone networks.”
Among the most notable pieces of information in this new report from Greenwald and Company are the statistics cited concerning the number of records the NSA collected domestically, as displayed by the Boundless Informant tool, wherein we’re informed those amounted to “…almost 3 billion pieces of intelligence from US computer networks over a 30-day period ending in March 2013…” alone. And, internationally…
Boundless Informant: the NSA's secret tool to track global surveillance data
Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 8 June 2013 15.10 EDT
…A snapshot of the Boundless Informant data, contained in a top secret NSA "global heat map" seen by the Guardian, shows that in March 2013 the agency collected 97bn pieces of intelligence from computer networks worldwide…
The Guardian article also contains a four-page, slide presentation on Boundless Informant, titled: “Boundless Informant NSA data-mining tool – four key slides.”
The article tells us…
…The disclosure of the internal Boundless Informant system comes amid a struggle between the NSA and its overseers in the Senate over whether it can track the intelligence it collects on American communications. The NSA's position is that it is not technologically feasible to do so.Of course, it’s fairly common knowledge these days, as Chris Soghoian, a principal technologist with the Speech Privacy and Technology Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, noted in the article, ”If you don't take steps to hide it, the IP address provided by your internet provider will certainly tell you what country, state and, typically, city you are in…"
At a hearing of the Senate intelligence committee In March this year, Democratic senator Ron Wyden asked James Clapper, the director of national intelligence: "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?"
"No sir," replied Clapper.
Judith Emmel, an NSA spokeswoman, told the Guardian in a response to the latest disclosures: "NSA has consistently reported – including to Congress – that we do not have the ability to determine with certainty the identity or location of all communicants within a given communication. That remains the case."
Other documents seen by the Guardian further demonstrate that the NSA does in fact break down its surveillance intercepts which could allow the agency to determine how many of them are from the US. The level of detail includes individual IP addresses.
The Guardian report also discusses some of the interactive functionality of the platform but, frankly, I think that’s more about eye candy than anything else. (The link to the story, along with relevant graphics regarding same--which I don’t believe are available for reproduction, given the copyright laws applicable in this instance—may be accessed via the link, above.)
Additionally, with the names of numerous other programs and data-mining tools at the NSA already being public knowledge, to assume this is the only tool of its kind in use at the NSA is sheer speculation—and, almost certainly, a far from accurate assumption, too.
Last but not least, as the authors of this article also noted, one of the more salient points of this latest revelation is that it continues to undermine the ongoing disinformation narrative out of D.C., and that’s concerning matters reported even as recently as over the past 24 hours, where we were reassured that the American public was not being spied upon, via public pronouncements directly to that effect, by none other than the President, himself.
“We don’t know what we don’t know,” as the old saying goes. But, there is a lot more information available online on many of these NSA programs, and the details relating to some of them, than many may realize.