Three Hop Query: NSA Collecting Way More Data Than Originally Thought

“Three hop query” may be a term that you hear more of after Wednesday’s oversight hearing involving testimony from NSA Deputy Director Chris Inglis to the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

Inglis said that NSA analysts are allowed to perform “a second or third hop query” [emphasis The Inquisitr] during questioning.

How is this a big deal?

By now, you know that Edward Snowden leaked classified documents to The Guardian in June. Journalists Glenn Greenwald and Spencer Ackerman used those documents to cite that US investigators “analyzed networks with two degrees of separation [two hops] from the target” while probing for terrorist activities.

“In other words, the NSA studied the online records of people who communicated with people who communicated with targeted individuals,” Greenwald and Ackerman wrote.

Doing the math on a three hop query, that means the NSA can study the online records of people who communicated with people who communicated with people who communicated with “targeted individuals.”

(Go ahead. Read that again if you have to; I did.)

As pointed out via a study from The Atlantic Wire, everyone on the Internet [again, emphasis, The Inquisitr] on average, “is only 4.74 steps away from anyone else.”

(Let that sink in.)

Thus far, the NSA and President Obama have pointed out that powers are monitored by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which forbids the agency from targeting Americans.

Many politicians and American citizens weren’t buying it even with just two degrees of separation. Adding a three hop query means that authorities have access to millions more than initially thought.

In comments to The Atlantic Wire, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) staff attorney Alex Abdo, said a “two-hop” standard would “inevitably sweep in Americans.” We can pretty much guess what the ACLU will have to say about this latest development.

(Considering that the group, along with 19 other interest groups, have filed lawsuits related to the leaks already, we’ll just leave it at, “Prog-no-sis: Neg-a-tive!”)

With the three hop query putting NSA just 1.74 “hops” away from being able to spy on every person, who uses the Internet, do you think it’s time to reconsider the agency’s future?

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