US govt has been spying for years on us

The National Security Agency (NSA) has been tracking the phone calls, emails and posts of millions of people for years it has been revealed.
The Guardian and the Washington Post have announced that the practice is based on a hitherto top secret court order.

“The order reprinted in the article does not allow the government to listen in on anyone’s telephone calls,” a senior government official explained.

The content of phone conversations – what people say to each other when they are on the phone – is protected by the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, which forbids unreasonable searches.

But if information is shared with a third party, such as a phone company or an email company, it is fair game, says Robert Chesney, a University of Texas School of Law professor who specialises in national security.

That means that information about phone calls – such as their timing and duration – can be recorded by government officials.

NSA officials could (at least in theory) determine the kinds of businesses that an individual calls – and how often. These officials could also develop a picture of an individual’s daily life, based on their phone activity.

The collection of this information is legal. It falls under the 2001 Patriot Act, which was written to help prevent another terrorist attack.

Government officials believe that the collection of information – even personal data such as phone calls – is a useful tool.

“Getting phone information from phone companies – I wouldn’t say it’s routine, but it’s done frequently during investigations,” says Richard Wolf, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in Baltimore.

“This programme was used to stop a terrorist attack in the US,” said Mike Rogers, chairman of the House intelligence committee, describing the NSA activities. “We know that.”

NSA officials may, for example, could look at phone calls from people in the US to individuals in Yemen and Pakistan. US-directed drone strikes have killed dozens of terrorists in these regions under the Obama administration.

Dyenamic Solutions is based in Cheltenham- the home of GCHQ. For years we have been told that they have a hard wire link to the local BT telephone exchange and accordingly we have always taken the view that legal or not- all of our electronic data is or may have been recorded.

Thus it is of little surprise that the Americans- dozens of whom also work at GCHQ, are up to the same practices.