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Meet the NSA’s MetaData Search Engine: ICREACH

The National Security Agency is using massive surveillance platforms that allow multiple law enforcement agencies to infiltrate more than 850 billion communication records that overview emails, phone calls, instant messages, and phones geolocations according to new documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The NSA has built a Google-like search engine named ICREACH, that allows agencies to search through the swaths of metadata the NSA secretly collects. Metadata withheld in the system contains information on both foreigners and United States citizens, and is available to nearly two dozen government agencies, which include the CIA, DEA, FBI, and more The Intercept reported.

A majority of the data collected on citizens around the world are not begin accused or targeted for anything illegal. Previously, it was unclear how the agency stored and searched their surveillance data, but now it is clear how the agency does it and who they share the information with.

Thought the classified documents state that the FBI and DEA were “key participants” in the ICREACH program, it was found accessible to more than 1,000 government analysts and 23 United States government agencies to perform intelligence-based work.

This is not the first time ICREACH has been named public, journalist Glenn Greenwald who was the first person to meet Edward Snowden called out ICREACH in his book: “No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State” which also documented the program alongside other classified documents that highlighted some of the metadata documents that ICREACH obtained.

According to The Intercept journalist Ryan Gallagher, ICREACH search engine was “masterminded” by recently retired NSA director General Keith Alexander, and was launched by the NSA in 2007, but only made public Monday of this week (August 25).

Through the 850 billion metadata collections in the ICREACH program, one can track a persons movements, map their GPS and network history, predict future actions, and possibly even reveal political or religious associations.

The NSA described ICREACH as a “one-stop shopping tool” for analyzing communications, which generates a portrait of communication patters that are associated with particular pieces of information, such as phone numbers, email addresses, and other communications linked to the person.

ICREACH was designed to pull information stored in a number of databases created by programs greenlit under executive order 12333, which President Ronald Regan issued to vastly expand the data-collection power of government agencies based in the United States to spy on foreign communication networks. The report also claims ICREACH contains “millions of records on American citizens who have not been accused of any wrongdoing.”

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