Satirical imaginings of the NSA creating its own online social network are actually a fairly accurate depiction of the reality, Techdirt reports:
The NY Times has an article by James Risen and Laura Poitras detailing how the NSA has basically built its own “shadow” social network in which it tries to create a “social graph” of pretty much everyone that everyone knows, foreign or American, and it all happens (of course) without a warrant.
The agency can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents. They do not indicate any restrictions on the use of such “enrichment” data, and several former senior Obama administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners.
The policy change came in January of 2011, when the NSA was told it could start creating this massive “social graph” on Americans without having to make sure they weren’t Americans any more. Somewhat amazingly, the new report notes that in 2006, the NSA asked the Justice Department for permission to do exactly this sort of thing, and was rejected, saying that a “misuse” of that kind of data “could raise serious concerns.”