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US intel program targets email addresses, not keywords

The US government’s clandestine PRISM Internet program exposed by Edward Snowden targets suspect email addresses and phone numbers but does not search for keywords like terrorism, officials said Wednesday. Top lawyers of the country’s intelligence apparatus including the National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation participated Wednesday in a public hearing on the controversial US data-mining operations that intercept emails and other Internet communications including on social media networks like Facebook, Google or Skype. They told the hearing hosted by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) that the NSA did not aim to scoop up all web transmissions, but that the surveillance was narrowly tailored to track or uncover terror suspects and other threats. “We figure out what we want and we get that specifically, that’s why it’s targeted collection rather than bulk collection,” Robert Litt, general counsel at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told the hearing.

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