We already know that of the stolen NSA documents that Edward Snowden acquired, most remain unreleased from public view. However, they are slowly being released into the public domain and the latest release from The Guardian suggests that the Obama administration allowed a program to run that collected and stored all metadata on email sent by any American for a period of two years from 2009 to 2011.
By MetaData the data collection program refers to who the senders were, who the recipients were and other attached information like IP addresses and so forth. Of course the contents of every email were not stored and you could imagine that would require a serious amount of hard drive space to capture. The leak says that the program was ended in 2011 but there are apparently indications that there is a new more efficient method that replaced it designed to do exactly the same thing.
This email metadata collection program was started under George W. Bush as part of the “War on Terror” but after the jurisdiction of the data collection program expired in 2004 the NSA continually found ways to get new jurisdiction to carry on with the data collection. While they aren’t able to spy on the contents of your emails this is still yet another huge privacy breach and another example of the USA trampling on the freedoms of its people whilst keeping it all a secret. I wouldn’t be surprised if the GCHQ was doing the same to its citizens in the UK. I am sure more details will emerge soon.
Image courtesy of the EFF