NSA's XKeyscore Source Code Leaked! Shows Tor Users Classified As 'Extremists'
from the peeling-away-the-layers dept
We learnt about the NSA’s XKeyscore program a year ago, and about its incredibly wide reach. But now the German TV stations NDR and WDR claim to have excerpts from its source code. We already knew that the NSA and GCHQ have been targeting Tor and its users, but the latest leak reveals some details about which Tor exit nodes were selected for surveillance — including at least one in Germany, which is likely to increase public anger there. It also shows that Tor users are explicitly regarded as “extremists” (original in German, pointed out to us by @liese_mueller):
The source code contains both technical instructions and comments from the developers that provide an insight into the mind of the NSA. Thus, all users of such programs are equated with “extremists”.
Such is the concern about Tor that even visitors to Tor sites — whether or not they use the program — have their details recorded:
not only long-term users of this encryption software become targets for the [US] secret service. Anyone who wants to visit the official Tor Web site simply for information is highlighted.
The source code also gives the lie to the oft-repeated claim that only metadata, not content, is gathered:
With the source code can be proven beyond reasonable doubt for the first time that the NSA is reading not only so-called metadata, that is, connection data. If emails are sent using the Tor network, then programming code shows that the contents — the so-called email-body — are evaluated and stored.
As well as all this interesting information, what’s important here is that it suggests the source of this leak — presumably Edward Snowden, although the German news report does not name him — copied not just NSA documents, but source code too. As in the present case, that is likely to provide a level of detail that goes well beyond descriptive texts.