The vast majority of information collected by the NSA’s controversial surveillance programs belongs to ordinary internet users. That’s according to a four-month Washington Post investigation analyzing documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The Post analyzed a ‘cache’ of information in which nine of the ten ‘account holders’ “were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else”. The paper also found that half of the individuals featured in the 160,000 intercepted email and instant message conversations that it reviewed were US citizens or residents — a far higher rate than the agency has publicly admitted to.

The NSA has fewer regulations for data belonging to non-US citizens, so it is concerning that the Post claims emails written in a non-English language, or an IM contact based overseas are enough for the NSA to “presume” the individual is foreign.

In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are [Washington Post]

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