Telecom exec: NSA can’t distinguish between Americans and foreigners during data sweeps


One of the Obama administration’s most repeated defenses of the NSA’s internet surveillance programs has been that it does not “intentionally” target American citizens communicating domestically. That may be technically true, but an unnamed telecom executive who dealt with surveillance orders tells Foreign Policy that there’s no way for the NSA to tell the difference at the point of collection.

“There is physically no way to ensure that you’re only gathering US person e-mails,” said the executive, who has reportedly complied with court orders which forbid their recipients from acknowledging receiving them. “The system doesn’t make any distinction about the nationality” of the people whose communications are intercepted. That’s due in…

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