NSA surveillance covers 75 percent of US Internet traffic

Former monitoring base of U.S. intelligence organization NSA.

The National Security Agency has the network capability to spy on 75 percent of all US Internet traffic, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

The National Security Agency's surveillance network has the capacity to reach around 75 percent of all U.S. Internet communications in the hunt for foreign intelligence, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

NSA reportedly filters 75 percent of U.S. Internet traffic

NSA reportedly filters 75 percent of U.S. Internet traffic
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Citing current and former NSA officials, the newspaper said the 75 percent coverage is more of Americans' Internet communications than officials have publicly disclosed.

The Journal said the agency keeps the content of some emails sent between U.S. citizens and also filters domestic phone calls made over the Internet.

Related: NSA may have collected 56,000 emails by Americans

The NSA's filtering, carried out with telecom companies, looks for communications that either originate or end abroad, or are entirely foreign but happen to be passing through the United States, the paper said.

But officials told the Journal the system's broad reach makes it more likely that purely domestic communications will be incidentally intercepted and collected in the hunt for foreign ones.

Related: Inside the agency that's watching you

In response to a request for comment, NSA said its intelligence mission "is centered on defeating foreign adversaries who aim to harm the country. We defend the United States from such threats while fiercely working to protect the privacy rights of U.S. persons.

"It's not either/or. It's both," NSA said in an email statement to Reuters.

The Journal said that these surveillance programs show the NSA can track almost anything that happens online, so long as it is covered by a broad court order, the Journal said.

Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, first disclosed details of secret U.S. programs to monitor Americans' telephone and Internet traffic earlier this summer.

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