We already know the NSA collect electronic data on almost every aspect of people’s life, whether that data collection is justified or even legal is a another debate altogether. The latest revelation from the Washington Post suggests that the they also collect your address books and contact lists in many online services too. The slides revealed show that Yahoo Messenger is the biggest target followed by Hotmail, Gmail, Facebook and then other services. Of the nearly 700,000 address books the NSA is able to grab data on it says it can attribute 13.8% of those to people.
The NSA conducts these address book grabs on foreign soil in an effort to bypass laws that require them to screen out American citizens. By doing it on foreign soil they can collect data on everyone, including Americans. The revelations have somewhat damaged the credibility of Yahoo as it doesn’t normally require users to have SSL encryption on its web mail and messaging services. From January 8th Yahoo will play catch up to Google and Facebook in offering encryption as standard in an effort to tighten security against dragnet surveillance. Of course encryption doesn’t prevent the NSA from finding a way in but it makes their job a lot harder.
Image courtesy of The Washington Post