In today's "the Government is spying on you" update, it appears that the National Security Administration isn't just listening in on your phone calls, reading your emails and scanning your G-chats—they're also stalking your Facebook friends, following your GPS and reading your tax documents.
The Times reported today that the NSA has been creating social network diagrams of certain citizens so they can track their movements and various associations. According to documents submitted by famed whistleblower Edward Snowden, they've been using data from "bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents" so they can target individuals who are a maximum of three steps away from a surveillance suspect.
Not that any of this should be so surprising at this point, and considering everyone from your ex-girlfriend to your employer to your goldfish is stalking your social media profile, it's practically expected that the NSA's been keeping track of all those Pusheen stickers you've been sending via Facebook chat these days. Or whatever.
But it is still unsettling that the agency has been culling such a wide swath of private data, and the Times notes that since 2010, the government has been able to map out certain Americans' social connections to the point that they can "identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information," a move the American Civil Liberties Union described to USA Today as "outlandish." "That the NSA's surveillance activities rest on so flimsy a foundation is further evidence that our intelligence-oversight system is utterly broken," Jameel Jaffer, ACLU's deputy legal director, said.
But the government maintains that this is all in the name of national security and has a "foreign intelligence purpose", though, so don't worry, Big Brother is keeping you safe (smooths hair).