US government accused of widespread civilian surveillance

A National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower has claimed the US government is illegally collecting data on domestic citizens.

Speaking to the Guardian, former NSA official Bill Binney said that he was involved in a project to collect data for national security purposes following the 9/11 attacks.

Binney says that he was involved in the creation of a software system called ThinThread in the late 1990s, correlating data from emails, phone calls, and internet searches to be mapped for analysis.  

He told the Guardian that the success of the software meant that it also unintentionally caught US citizen information too.  Binney claims after 9/11, the software was used in a more widespread fashion, alleging that safeguards he put into the software code were removed.

Binney believes that the government is now in the process of building a datacentre in Utah which will store the information retrieved from countless emails by those in the US and abroad. This apparently involves collating information from sites such as Facebook, Google, as well as from the ‘deep web’.

The government denies a concerted attempt to collect data on the public, with NSA director General Keith Alexander stating that the department “absolutely” had not been creating files on American citizens.

Binney has gone public over the past year about the claims, which he says has resulted in a raid on his house by the FBI. Binney says he regrets his role in creating surveillance software, arguing that it has resulted in the “a violation of the constitutional rights” of members of the public.