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July 9, 2013 Atlantic Wire
Complaining about the government is a key part of being American, the first amendment to the Constitution. But it seems like a bit of a trickier proposition these days, with the government listening to everything you say online. In the interest of preserving your freedoms and bolstering our fair nation, here is the full articulation of the deeply paranoid and complex life you must live in order to assure that the government leaves you alone.
Before we begin, we'll note that technically the NSA isn't allowed to look at the stuff you do online. Thanks to the Patriot Act, it can (and does) store the metadata on phone calls Americans make every day—who was called, how long the call lasted, maybe some location data. The NSA also pulls in online content, but can't do so legally on targets in the United States. This is part of the PRISM program you may have heard about, in which the NSA can access data from an array of companies in near-real-time. In practice, the NSA's procedures are sufficiently lax that it does collect information (content) from Americans, of course. And until 2011, it collected metadata on emails, including subject lines and to- and from-addresses. Read More