The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Washington (AFP) – The U.S. National Security Agency is scooping up large quantities of images of people for use in facial recognition programs, the New York Times reported Sunday, citing top secret documents.

The Times said documents, which were obtained from fugitive former U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden, show a significant increase in reliance on facial recognition technology at the agency over the past four years.

The report said the NSA was using new software to exploit a flood of images included in intercepted emails, text messages, social media posts, video conferences and other communications.

It cited leaked 2011 documents as saying the NSA intercepts “millions of images per day,” including 55,000 “facial recognition quality images.”

The images represented “tremendous untapped potential,” according to the report, which said NSA officials believe advances in technology could revolutionize the way the agency finds intelligence targets.

“It’s not just the traditional communications we’re after: It’s taking a full-arsenal approach that digitally exploits the clues a target leaves behind in their regular activities on the net to compile biographic and biometric information” that can help “implement precision targeting,” a 2010 document quoted by the newspaper said.

The Times said it wasn’t clear how many people, including how many Americans, had been caught up in the effort, but noted that neither U.S. privacy laws nor U.S. surveillance laws provide specific protections for facial images.

A NSA spokeswoman said, however, that the agency would be required to get court approval for imagery of Americans it collects through its surveillance programs.

The agency has been at the center of controversy over the scope of its global electronic surveillance program since they were first revealed by Snowden in June 2013.

The former intelligence contractor is in Russia, where he was granted temporary political asylum last year.

Photo: AFP via Saul Loeb

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Chuck Todd

Photo by U.S. National Archives (Public domain)

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

Surveying the media landscape and seeing a Beltway press corps that's constantly on the run from Republican attacks, Meet The Press moderator Chuck Todd this week urged his colleagues to stand up to the right-wing bullies, who have spent decades demonizing journalists.

Keep reading... Show less

Former President Trump takes a phone call in the Oval Office.

Photo by The White House

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Former President Donald Trump was relentless in his efforts to overturn the presidential election. Although he has adamantly insisted that his actions were not an attempt at a coup, there is reportedly evidence indicating that it was. According to The Daily Beast, details have been revealed about Trump's phone call that may have led to the attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol.

Keep reading... Show less
x

Close