The NSA’s Game Of HopscotchSubmitted by McWilly on Thu, 07/18/2013 - 14:00
Yesterday, Deputy Director of the NSA Chris Inglis, testified on Capitol Hill and in the midst of the NSA’s standard spiel about “defusing” terrorist plots (both real, imagined and created by the NSA and FBI) a very shocking bit of information was revealed. The number of “hops” between people investigated during a standard terror suspect surveillance. The Atlantic Wire has the full scoop, complete with adequate realistic examples and metrics, so I’ll leave it up to them to explain:
Analysts look “two or three hops” from terror suspects when evaluating terror activity, Inglis revealed. Previously, the limit of how surveillance was extended had been described as two hops. This meant that if the NSA were following a phone metadata or web trail from a terror suspect, it could also look at the calls from the people that suspect has spoken with—one hop. And then, the calls that second person had also spoken with—two hops. Terror suspect to person two to person three. Two hops. And now: A third hop.
Think of it this way. Let’s say the government suspects you are a terrorist and it has access to your Facebook account. If you’re an American citizen, it can’t do that currently (with certain exceptions)—but for the sake of argument. So all of your friends, that’s one hop. Your friends’ friends, whether you know them or not—two hops. Your friends’ friends’ friends, whoever they happen to be, are that third hop. That’s a massive group of people that the NSA apparently considers fair game.