US spies mined data on trillions of emails and calls
Information on trillions of emails, web chats and Skype conversations carried out by Americans has been harvested along with their telephone records by the National Security Agency (NSA), it has been claimed.
The NSA's surveillance programmes, which have been exposed in a series of recent leaks, are said to be so wide-ranging that they are reported to "touch nearly every American household in some way".
A top-secret court order published earlier this month disclosed that for seven years, US telecommunications corporations have been ordered to hand over details of all calls made on their networks.
This vast amount of "metadata", comprising details such as call location and duration, can then be mined by US intelligence to identify associates and potential co-plotters of suspected terrorists.
This programme, code-named "Mainway", has a sister scheme called "Marina" that vacuums up data on trillions of other communications such as emails and video calls, 'The Washington Post' reported yesterday.
Mike Rogers, chairman of the House intelligence committee, has claimed that the spying apparatus thwarted "dozens" of terrorist plots, details of which he was working to declassify.
Edward Snowden, the rogue NSA contractor who leaked top-secret documents to the media, claimed that even as a low-ranking official he could tap the telephone of any American.
Yet intelligence chiefs insist that the content of conversations can be obtained only in extraordinary circumstances and with court authority, on the basis of specific evidence of a terrorist plot.
Then, a system called Nucleon records calls, while PRISM, which was exposed in documents leaked by Mr Snowden, captures emails, social network messages and other online chats. (© Daily Telegraph, London)