You are probably already on the NSA’s naughty list

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Ever since Edward Snowden’s revelations about the international spying done by the NSA, it has open a flood gate of information, knowledge and investigations. And the chance that you have been targeted or placed on the NSA’s watch list is pretty good.

According to an investigation by Germany’s Das Erste and Panorama, if you have merely searched online for the terms ‘online privacy’ or ‘Tor network’, it would have been (is) enough to place you on a watch list for the NSA to check out.

“Merely searching the web for the privacy-enhancing software tools outlined in the XKeyscore rules causes the NSA to mark and track the IP address of the person doing the search. Not only are German privacy software users tracked, but the source code shows that privacy software users worldwide are tracked by the NSA,” the report stated.

Co-authored by Jacob Appelbaum, who was in South Africa recently, the report details that users of services like HotSpotShield, FreeNet, Centurian,, MegaProxy and were also targeted.

Appelbaum helped to develop the Tor network, and to no surprise the anonymous services has been heavily targeted by the NSA. Even though the NSA has been snooping around, Sebastian Hahn, the Tor volunteer who runs Gabelmoo, said that systems are in place for users to still remain anonymous.

“We’ve been thinking of state surveillance for years because of our work in places where journalists are threatened. Tor’s anonymity is based on distributed trust, so observing traffic at one place in the Tor network, even a directory authority, isn’t enough to break it.”

It also found that currently two servers in Germany – in Berlin and Nuremberg – are under surveillance by the NSA. That might sound like a German problem, but a great number of websites in South Africa are hosted by Hetzner. While it has a South African office, its head office is located in Germany.

Have you visited the forum Linux Journal? If so, congratulations, you are officially an extremist in the NSA’s eyes.

“It also records details about visits to a popular internet journal for Linux operating system users called ‘the Linux Journal – the Original Magazine of the Linux Community’, and calls it an ‘extremist forum’,” the report said.

An anonymous email service at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has also been the subject of intensive surveillance. “The XKeyscore rules reveal that the NSA tracks all connections to a server that hosts part of an anonymous email service at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.”

Just by reading this article you have probably earned yourself a spot on the NSA’s coveted watch list.

[Image – CC by 2.0/Kit]



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