Report: NSA Dragnet Ensnares Way More Regular Folks Than Legal Targets

TIME

The National Security Agency has intercepted far more communications from average Internet users than from intended security targets, newly analyzed documents leaked by former intelligence analyst and fugitive Edward Snowden reveal.

Nine out of 10 people whose data were intercepted in domestic intelligence operations were normal Internet users, many of whom were U.S. citizens, according to files obtained by the Washington Post. Although the NSA tried to conceal 65,000 references to names, email addresses and other personal info to protect users’ privacy, the Post found more than 900 extra email accounts that could be clearly linked to Americans.

The paper analyzed 160,000 email and instant-message chats and 7,900 documents collected from 11,000 accounts between the years 2009 and 2012. National security officials had previously believed this material was outside of Snowden’s access.

The documents show that the NSA’s surveillance efforts led to the capture of Umar Patek, a suspect…

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