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REPORT: NSA MONITORED PIRATE SITE USERS

February 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Officials of the NSA authorized the monitoring of U.S. users of pirate websites such as The Pirate Bay with certain restrictions, new leaked documents from Edward Snowden have revealed. The documents disclose that some NSA staff members were uncertain about whether they could legitimately spy on such sites given the fact that while many of them are based overseas, where spying may be permitted, many of their users are based in the U.S., where it is not. The documents were published on Glenn Greenwald’s The Intercept and summarized on TorrentFreak.com, which tracks BitTorrent usage. “In Q&A’s between NSA staff, Threat Operations Center Oversight and Compliance (NOC), and the NSA’s Office of General Council (OGC), torrent sites are mentioned on a number of occasions, with The Pirate Bay sitting front and center,” Torrent Freak observed. For example, one NSA employee asked, “Is it okay to query against a foreign server known to be malicious even if there is a possibility that a US person could be using it as well? Example, thepiratebay.org.” The reply: “Okay to go after foreign servers which US people use also (with no defeats). But try to minimize to ‘post’ only.” In his report, Greenwald wrote: “Illustrating how far afield the NSA deviates from its self-proclaimed focus on terrorism and national security, the documents reveal that the agency considered using its sweeping surveillance system against Pirate Bay, which has been accused of facilitating copyright violations.” What may be more worrying to Pirate Bay users is the information that the NSA may have found a way of tracing users who employ proxy servers to cover their tracks. Commented Torrent Freak: “While many consider proxies as useful tools to mask their online activities, it has to be presumed that organizations such as the NSA have the ability to track individuals using even multiple instances [of proxies].”