NSA using online activity to discredit and blackmail targets

The US authorities have studied online sexual activity and suggested exposing porn site visits as a way to discredit people who spread radical views, the Huffington Post news site has reported. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25118156

It published a document, leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, identifying two men said to be vulnerable to accusations of “online promiscuity”.

Campaign group Privacy International called it “frightening”.

Privacy International said: “This is not the first time we’ve seen states use intimate and private information of an individual who holds views the government doesn’t agree with, and exploit this information to undermine an individual’s message.”

The report came shortly after a group of United Nations experts adopted a “right to privacy” resolution.

It will be passed by the UN’s General Assembly before the end of the year, but is largely symbolic since it is not legally binding.

The UN’s Human Rights Committee said it was “deeply concerned at the negative impact” the interception of data “including extraterritorial surveillance” could have “in particular when carried out on a mass scale”.

The latest of Mr Snowden’s leaked documents is dated October 2012 and says it was distributed by the office of the director of the NSA to other US government officials.

It says the information is largely based on gathered “Sunni extremist communications”, including material sourced by the FBI.

One example is evidence of the target “viewing sexually explicit material online or using sexually explicit persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls”.

Others include:

using donations to pay personal expenses
charging exorbitant speaking fees
using questionable sources and contradictory language in public messages
None of the six individuals who appear in the report are accused of being directly involved in terrorism.

Of the four other targets, one is said to be vulnerable to being exposed for being “attracted to fame” and another for having a “glamorous lifestyle”.

Privacy International spokesman Mike Rispoli said: “What is frightening about the NSA’s capabilities are that they collect massive amounts of information on everyone, including your political beliefs, contacts, relationships and internet histories.

“While these documents suggest this type of personal attacks are targeted in nature, do not forget that the NSA is conducting mass surveillance on the entire world and collecting a vast amount of information on nearly everyone.”

A spokeswoman for the NSA’s UK equivalent – GCHQ – declined to comment on details of the Huffington Post’s report.

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