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Nine out of 10 users in NSA-intercepted conversations are not original targets

08.07.2014 14:36

Nine out of 10 internet users found in a cache of NSA-intercepted conversations were not the original targets, but landed in the agency's net anyway.

The Washington Post revealed the stunningly high percentage of innocent web crawlers snared in the National Security Administration's web after a four-month examination of documents turned over by ex-agency contractor Edward Snowden.

In its story, The Post said it had reviewed 160,000 emails and IM conversations, along with 7,900 documents lifted from 11,000 online accounts.

All the documents were provided to the paper by Snowden, and they illustrated how the NSA ensnared unwitting targets and non-targets during the course of daily business.

According to the Post, many other files, considered useless but never deleted, exposed the secrets of 10,000 account holders who were never declared NSA targets.

The files contained damning evidence of extramarital affairs, details of relationships, worries about cash and other intensely personal matters, The Post reported.

How did it happen? According to the newspaper, every time a targeted individual entered an online chat room the NSA snapped up the identities and conversations of everyone who posted or lurked on the site.

One analyst described a day's work: "1 target, 38 others on there."

The Post, in a lengthy Sunday piece, said it was withholding some details to protect ongoing government operations.