The list of those countries which are being spied by the NSA under their surveillance program, India is in the fifth place as a huge amount of internet and telephonic data has been collected from it over the span of last 30 days.
It is again the whistle blower Edward Snowden, a former official of the NSA program, who has given some confidential documents to an Indian newspaper with details about the intelligence activities that the USA has been conducting in India. The documents says that two different programs are being run for this purpose. One of the program is known Boundless Informant which keeps a track on the number of email and calls that have been collected by the agency.
The other program is named as PRISM which involves the interception and collection of actual data from various networks. Where boundless program has been active in collecting the data related to emails and telephone calls, the PRISM program has been gathering information related to non-terrorism issues through web-services and programs such as Facebook, YouTube, Microsoft and Google.
When a spokesman of the intelligence office of the USA was asked by an Indian newspaper that why a friendly nation like Indian has been subjected to such a massive surveillance, he replied that USA will respond to all its allies and partners through diplomatic channels. We are not going to publicly comment on all the specific intelligence activities carried out NSA, and the USA has already declared its policy that we only gather information which is normally gathered by intelligence agencies of all the countries. The spokesman gave no reply was asked that how have they managed to collect pieces of data totaling around 13.5 billion, and have they established any sort of cooperation with the telecom companies in India.
However the higher officials in India have been denying these revelations of the document that was provided to the Indian newspaper. Salman Khurshid who is the Minister for External Affairs went on to defend the surveillance program of the NSA by giving the statement that “snooping is not what they do”. On the other hand, the documents that have been received declare that the Boundless Informant program not only keeps a track of the calls and the emails but also uses such data to give out summaries to the managers of the secret agency, and this forms the basis of the operations of this intelligence agency.
All the internet related data such as emails and the telephonic data of calls is stored in an archive of the NSA which is called as GM-PLACE.
Experts say that gathering metadata is quite a serious business and this data can be used to construct detailed information of professional and private activities of an individual. This Metadata basically involves the telephone numbers of both the caller and the recipient, the serial numbers of all the phones that are involved, the call duration, and the location of both the recipient and the caller. The same is the case when it comes to metadata in the form of emails. The metadata figure is around 6.2 billion in just 30 days which means that NSA has been collecting information of around millions of messages, emails and calls from India on a daily basis.
The classified and highly confidential document which has been obtained by an Indian newspaper also reveals that the Boundless Informant program of NSA is basically a tool which they utilize for their Global Access Operations. The motto of this program is that “The Mission Never sleeps”. The document also signifies towards the ability of the tool to present a huge amount of data through charts and maps without any human intervention. It is the DNR and the DNI metadata record which is basically used to gather such a huge amount of information from both the internet and through intercepting telephonic communications.
The GAO’s map presentations that have been revealed in the document have shown that India has been quite extensively targeted by the NSA surveillance program, and especially in March when they have gathered a huge amount of data.
All the BRICS nations that include Brazil, Russia, India and China have been extensively targeted under the surveillance program.
The internet surveillance reports which have been depicted the heat maps of the classified documents show that Iran is the country from which the largest amount of intelligence has been gathered. At number 2 spot has been Pakistan. Jordan and Egypt stands at the 3rd and 4th spot while India stands at fifth spot with 6.3 billion information pieces in just 30 days.
The issue of this surveillance program was raised by India on 24th June when John Kerry, the State Secretary of USA, visited New Delhi for strategic dialogues. However the New Delhi officials were quite inclined towards accepting the statement that the secretary gave when he said that, no information has been extracted or received through email.
It is a fact that Boundless Informant collects and intercepts information, but the classified document which was received by the Indian newspaper suggests that the NSA tool not only focuses on such collection, but also categorizes the information, records it and retrieves it. This information is used by the intelligence agents to construct and abstract the identities of people and to track them down.
Because the metadata record that is collected by NSA is readable thorough machine, it makes it easily searchable and is used for vast scale surveillance as it contains email logs, telephone records, websites visited etc. This means that all the data is available to the agents for tracking people and that too without any court order or warrant. Gathering metadata is considered by many human rights organizations as a big violation of privacy of an individual. The metadata that is collected can be processed to know a great deal about any individual. Putting all the social media interactions and the telephone records together can enable to keep a track on the movements of an individual, with whom he/she interacts and what runs their lives.