How Is ‘Boundless Informant’ Global Surveillance NOT Spying?

by
Fatimah Mazhar
Following the revelation of the top secret court orders to Verizon Wireless, The Guardian has yet again released another set of documents further endangering the credibility of the Obama administration.

Global Surveillance

Following the revelation of the top secret court orders to Verizon Wireless, The Guardian has yet again released another set of documents further endangering the credibility of the Obama administration.

Say hello to Boundless Informant, the National Security Agency’s internal tool for mining data. It is, as its name suggests, boundless. It focuses more on counting and categorizing the amount of data acquires from all over the world, since it is a ‘global’ surveillance tool.

The news of the existence of Boundless Informant comes just days after the revelation of PRISM which was a highly secretive data-mining program. Massive outrage sparked across the country upon learning that their personal e-mails, conversations etc were being recorded, heard and collected by their government’s intelligence agencies without prior notifications.

The top officials of the government defended the warrantless-checking by stating that it was done all in the name of counter-terrorism. They said that it was not spying and it had been started for the sake of Americans’ security from external threats after September 11, 2001. But, as expected, the reasoning was taken more as an excuse by the government to breach citizens’ privacy. It was unacceptable. Period.

And now with the revelation of Boundless Informant and its range of gathering intelligence, almost the entire world is in shock at the extent to which this surveillance was being carried out. According to the leaked documents, ‘Iran was the country where the largest amount of intelligence was gathered, with more than 14bn reports in that period, followed by 13.5bn from Pakistan. Jordan, one of America's closest Arab allies, came third with 12.7bn, Egypt fourth with 7.6bn and India fifth with 6.3bn.’

The data disclosure appears more like spying than being a counter-terrorism effort. Doesn’t it? It would take a lot more than mere claims that surveillance was carried out for the ‘good’ of non-American citizens. It sounds illogical. How can non-U.S. citizens be assured that their information is not being violated? It may be ‘harder to know the ultimate source or destination, or more particularly the identity of the person represented by the TO:, FROM: or CC: field of an e-mail address or the abstraction of an IP address,’ as one NSA spokeswoman puts it, but is it a strong enough guarantee for people living in Iran, Pakistan or India?

How is this not espionage?

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