XKeyscore: A New Government Spying Tool Revealed

nsa-logo XKeyscoreHave you ever heard of  XKeyscore? It's the National Security Agency's best kept secret program. What does it do? Oh, not much. It just keeps track of your browsing, emails, surf patterns, chats, metadata – pretty much everything you do online.

XKeyscore is the latest break in the government spying scandal originally exposed by The Guardian. The source behind all of these government secrets is a 29-year old man by the name of Edward Snowden (as I'm sure you know). Snowden is also the source behind details about  XKeyscore. Here's why you might want to know about this program, and what it means for your website.

XKeyscore: Training Materials Reveal All

Snowden has just handed The Guardian all of the  XKeyscore training materials. Inside of those documents, The Guardian reports that the XKeyscore program allows government agencies to sift through an entire database of user information without any kind of warning or warrant.

For example, the program makes it possible to wire tap anyone from the president to an average Joe. All that's needed is a personal email, and those aren't hard to find at all. The government has denied Snowden's claims that the XKeyscore program has been used without consent.

As the law in the United States currently stands, the NSA must have a legal warrant for any kind of wire tap where a US citizen is involved – but this law is null and void if that citizen has a foreign target in mind.

XKeyscore: The NSA's Side of the Story

The NSA claims that the program is simply used to track the activities of “…legitimate foreign intelligence targets in response to requirements that our leaders need for information necessary to protect our nation and its interests.” So far, the program has helped the government track down more than 300 terrorists since 2008.

Snowden currently sits in a Moscow airport transit room waiting to see whether or not he is permitted Russian asylum. Presently, his request for asylum is under review. In the United States, Snowden is charged with espionage. If Snowden is sent back to the United States, he will not face execution according to a statement issued by the US Government.

But, he will certainly face a tough sentence. Russia is still holding onto Snowden while deciding what to do with him. What does all of this mean to you, or to your website?

XKeyscore: Widespread Panic

Ever since the news that the US Government was accessing citizen emails, Internet usage, and other aspects of a person's online life, widespread panic has spread. Could the government be watching what you do? Possibly; but it's likely that your private emails are safe for now. Even though programs like the one above exist, the government does not have enough manpower to monitor every single citizen.

That said, it is possible that some websites may be targeted or marked as suspicious. What kinds of sites? Those that openly provoke questioning, are linked with cheap hosts or websites in other countries, or are deemed suspicious. For now, though, most sites (and people) remain safe from government prying.

Questions? As always, just ask.

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