NSA has power to seize smartphone data

New disclosures regarding the U.S. National Security Agency's (NSA's) expansive surveillance apparatus suggests that the government body has the ability to target and extract information from smartphones, including iPhones and BlackBerrys. Previously, the Obama administration has asserted that its powers were limited to so-called "passive" operations, such as listening for the communications of terrorists in targeted, limited ways. Now, it seems, that the NSA is openly collecting and sifting through information gleaned from active telecommunications.

The latest revelations, reported on by the German-language newspaper Der Speigel, are based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who is now living temporary asylum in Russia. Additionally, the new information runs counter to statements from President Barack Obama that only "meta-data" was being collected from American callers, rather than the text messages, phone contacts and even internet access logs contained on all smartphones.

A simultaneous report published by the Washington Post traces the smartphone policy back to 2011, when the White House sought – and won – approval from the secret court overseeing the NSA operations to target these devices. In a statement, a cyber security legal expert summed up the approach that the NSA had taken in terms of launching surveillance operations on American smartphone-users.

"The government says, 'We're not targeting U.S. persons,'" Gregory Nojeim from Center for Democracy and Technology said. "But then they never say, 'We turn around and deliberately search for Americans' records in what we took from the wire.' That, to me, is not so different from targeting Americans at the outset."

Only time will tell which disclosures will appear next, or if the American people will actually act to counter these efforts. You can learn more about these and other ideas, as well as tactics for preparing for a difficult retirement, by contacting Great Wealth Strategies today.