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NSA's XKeyscore Program Targets Privacy Seekers

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

The National Security Agency's reputation among private citizens of the world is getting no better. XKeyscore is the NSA program in charge of deciding whose internet activity is singled out and monitored for long periods of time and, according to Tagesschau, a German news and culture site, the program's source code contains some disturbing revaluations about who it targets.

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As reported by, the source code shows, perhaps unsurprisingly, that Tor and TAILs users are targeted for further surveillance. What is surprising is that these people are labeled as 'extremist' along with readers of the Linux Journal, a supposed 'extremist forum.'

"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," according to an English language follow-up article on

An article on BoingBoing suggests the separation by the NSA of internet users into two groups; those with online privacy know-how, and those without it. The intense nature of NSA's targeting is perhaps the most troubling. The article also suggests that Snowden may not be the source of this new information and that a second leak may be involved.

The source code outlines a list of variables that may be searched alongside TAILs, such as 'USB', 'CD', 'linux' or 'secure desktop.' According to the source code comments, "These variables define terms and websites relating to the TAILs (The Amnesic Incognito Live System) software program, a comsec mechanism advocated by extremists on extremist forums."

Private citizens are not the only ones seeking privacy online. Businesses around the world are becoming wary of US-run data centers, according to a report by Daniel Castro of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF).

The report found that 10 percent of international companies surveyed had already canceled a project that used US cloud computing resources, and 56 percent of international companies said they were now "less likely" to use those resources in the future.

In total, the report estimates the US will lose 10 - 20 percent of the international cloud computing market, which translates into between $22 and $35 billion.