“World Map of Social Networks” ell brown The New York Times reported on Saturday that the National Security Agency has been collecting social data pertaining to Americans for the past three years, using 94 different “entity types” of metadata, “including phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and IP addresses.” With this, the agency has been able to construct maps of an individual’s personal associations “for foreign intelligence purposes,” even if that person is a US citizen.

This latest news is based on former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s leaked documents, one of which is a January 2011 memorandum from the NSA. That memo addressed a November 2010 policy shift that allowed the agency to conduct “large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of communications metadata without having to check foreignness,” the memo said. Prior to that change in policy, such analysis was permitted only for foreigners. “[T]he decision to revise the limits concerning Americans was made in secret, without review by the nation’s intelligence court or any public debate,” wrote NYT reporters James Risen and Laura Poitras.     

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