How NSA's XKeyscore Tracking Program Works

A computer program known as “XKeyscore,” which allows the National Security Agency to monitor America’s email and online chats without authorization, according to reports shared by NSA leaker Edward Snowden with the Guardian, gives analysts a tool by which they can pluck individual data points out of a massive indexed database. Analysts can search by name, telephone number, IP address, keywords and event the language or the type of browser used. "I like to think of it as plumbing," David Brown, who penned the recent book "Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry" under the pseudonym D.B. Grady, told NBC News. "The pipes come in through XKeyscore, which then diverts the data through different channels, because there's just an awful lot of data." XKeyscore serves as a first point of collection for massive amounts of data which, according to the Guardian, can be stored only for short periods of time." That's where additional NSA databases come in -- one database known as "Pinwale" stores recorded signals for up to five years.

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