Analysts at the U.S. National Security Agency not only sift through the metadata associated with your calls — they also have the ability to listen in on conversations in real time.
The news, which was first reported by sister site CNET’s Declan McCullagh, cited Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) who was told during a secret briefing to members of Congress that phone calls could be listened to “simply based on an analyst deciding that.”
It comes just over a week after U.S. President Barack Obama stated: “Nobody is listening to your phone calls.”
He was also told that the NSA does not seek legal authorization from a court to allow its analysts and staff to listen in on calls, even U.S. domestic calls. And, because the same laws that apply to phone calls also include emails, instant messages, and text messages, it is possible that contents of Internet communications could also be accessed under the same premise.
Senate Intelligence committee chairperson Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) confirmed on Thursday that a court order is not necessary for the NSA to search its call data database that it collects under secret orders from major U.S. telecom firms.
Feinstein also said: “To look at or use the content of a call, a court warrant must be obtained,” indicating that though a court order is required, the NSA does in fact collect the audio contents of calls.
Claims made in a video by Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who leaked documents to The Guardian newspaper in London, that he could “wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president” appear to be accurate.
It also comes a month after former FBI counter-terrorism agent Tim Clemente disclosed to CNN that under certain investigations relating to the protection of national security, his former employer could access call records and contents of those calls.
“All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not,” he claimed.