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The Obama administration insists that its spying programs don’t target Americans. But new revelations on the scope of its surveillance show that just mentioning information about suspicious foreigners could result in NSA searches of your e-mail and text messages, the New York Times reports.

We’ve known for some time that the NSA searches the contents of Americans’ e-mail and text communications in and out of the United States. But today’s report goes a bit further and suggests the NSA’s power is wider than previously thought. If Americans mention something like a terrorist’s e-mail address or alias in an text, the NSA is actively working to read that communication.

Some of the NSA’s most vast electronic spying programs, including PRISM and XKeyScore, were revealed by leaker Edward Snowden, who has received temporary asylum in Russia.

These programs have raised questions about whether the U.S. government is infringing on American’s privacy. The NSA has nonchalantly declined that this is the case and says its focus has only been on “foreign” targets.


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“In carrying out its signals intelligence mission, N.S.A. collects only what it is explicitly authorized to collect,” N.S.A. spokesperson Judith Emmel told the New York Times. “Moreover, the agency’s activities are deployed only in response to requirements for information to protect the country and its interests.”

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