Tor and Tails Linux Users, as well as Linux Journal readers have been apparently tagged as ‘extremists’ by the National Security Agency, having leaked documents reveal that the XKeyscore snooping program is apparently targeting anyone who is interested in online privacy and use the latter software.
For those who do not know, XKeyscore is a piece of software which was among a number of surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden last year. Having said that, sources say that a number of Tor project members and security specialists from NDR and WDR in Germany have analyzed the source code and identified two German Tor Directory Authority servers as being under surveillance by the NSA, having other specific IP addresses cited.
However, the code appears not to keep every country in ‘lockdown’. Canada, UK, New Zealand, Australia and the US have apparently been given a free pass from the NSA’s surveillance program. For those who are not, the program is stated to mark and track IP addresses of users who search for keywords such as ‘tails’ or ‘Amnesiac Incognito Live System’, along with ‘Linux’, ‘ USB ‘,’ CD ‘, ‘secure desktop’, ‘ IRC’, ‘truecrypt’ or ‘ tor’, having also referring to the Tails Linux distribution as “a comsec mechanism advocated by extremists on extremist forums”.
The report also states that, aside from Linux Journal, other websites such as privacy.li, FreeProxies.org, HotSpotShield, MegaProxy, FreeNet, Centurian, and an anonymous email service called MixMinion are on the surveillance list. Aside from the surveillance details, nobody knows who leaked source code in question. While the obvious ‘target’ would be Snowden himself, other security specialists point to a ‘second leaker out there’.
Following the leaked information, the NSA has apparently released an official statement (available here), stating that the agency only collects data relevant for them and authorized by law, pointing out that tools such as the XKeyscore have different layers of searches and data gathering, relevant to and in accordance with every nation’s laws.
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