Ordinary internet users have borne the brunt of NSA surveillance according to independent analysis of the stats conducted by the Washington Post, throwing into doubt suggestions that the scheme was focussed on foreign security threats.
In a damning report the paper said that ordinary citizens had been ‘caught in a net the National Security Agency had cast for somebody else’, with highly personal details logged and stored even though it had no intelligence value.
Its four month investigation revealed that nine out of 10 of those caught up in the NSA’s net weren’t specifically targeted and many of them were also American citizens.
Not all the trawled content was useless however with the Post pointing out that the material contained “… fresh revelations about a secret overseas nuclear project, double-dealing by an ostensible ally, a military calamity that befell an unfriendly power, and the identities of aggressive intruders into US computer networks.”
The vast majority of the data contained only voyeuristic qualities however, with a series of messages pertaining to "… love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes.”
The Washington Post reviewed 160,000 emails and instant messages alongside 7,900 documents from some 11,000 online accounts which were obtained over a four year period from 2009.