The name’s not quite as catchy, but the NSA reportedly has its own Google, a surveillance engine called ICREACH. Reports from the Edward Snowden leaks have previously revealed that domestic spy agencies share information with one another, but the Intercept details the scope of that sharing — and it has legal experts alarmed.
ICREACH allows the sharing of more than 850 billion communications records, according to the Intercept, citing leaks from Snowden, the former government tech contractor. The records gathered supposedly were of foreign targets, but as in other cases, that usually means Americans’ communications are being scooped up, too.
Almost a couple dozen government agencies have access to ICREACH, which the NSA reportedly described as a “one-stop shopping tool” for analyzing communications. Experts are concerned that the information gleaned from it could be used in domestic investigations that may have nothing to do with anti-terrorism efforts.
“Perhaps if information is useful in a specific case, they can get judicial authority to provide it to another agency. But there shouldn’t be this buddy-buddy system back-and-forth,” Brian Owsley, an assistant professor of law at Indiana Tech Law School and a former federal magistrate judge, told the Intercept.
Meanwhile, are people sharing their views about the Snowden leaks? They’re less likely to do so in public if they use social media, a new report from Pew Research says. And 42 percent of Facebook and Twitter users wouldn’t post about the topic, the survey found. “People do not tend to be using social media for this type of important political discussion. And if anything, it may actually be removing conversation from the public sphere,” Keith Hampton, a communications professor at Rutgers University who helped conduct the study, told the Associated Press.
Photo of the National Security Agency building at Fort Meade, Md., by Charles Dharapak/Associated Press archives