This article was published on May 8, 2015

The NSA really does have a Skynet program, and a bad sense of humor


The NSA really does have a Skynet program, and a bad sense of humor
Ben Woods
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Ben Woods

Europe Editor

Ben is a technology journalist with a specialism in mobile devices and a geeky love of mobile spectrum issues. Ben used to be a professional Ben is a technology journalist with a specialism in mobile devices and a geeky love of mobile spectrum issues. Ben used to be a professional online poker player. You can contact him via Twitter or on Google+.

Someone at the NSA thinks they have a sense of humor. Or really likes the Terminator movies. Or secretly wants the plot of the Terminator movies to come true.

That’s right, while you might have thought Skynet was an artificial intelligence hell-bent on destroying the human race in movies alone, it turns out there really is an NSA program with the same name.

Thankfully, as far as The Intercept reports, it has a less lethal – but legally dubious – aims. It’s a tracking system designed to harvest data about suspected terrorists, but which was actually used to identify well-known and long-standing Al Jazeera journalist Ahmad Muaffaq Zaidan as a member of Al Qaeda – an assertion he firmly refutes.

 US Government designated prominent Al Jazeera journalist as “member of Al Qaeda” [The Intercept via Wired]

Read next: NSA bulk metadata collection ruled illegal by federal court