...by illegally conducting warrantless wiretaps on US soil and co-opting major telecom firms and ISPs to get backdoor, direct switch access to perform data mining and traffic analysis...
The volume of information harvested from telecommunication data and voice networks, without court-approved warrants, is much larger than the White House has acknowledged, the officials said. It was collected by tapping directly into some of the American telecommunication system's main arteries, they said.That settles it. I'm going into the tinfoil hat business right now.
What has not been publicly acknowledged is that N.S.A. technicians, besides actually eavesdropping on specific conversations, have combed through large volumes of phone and Internet traffic in search of patterns that might point to terrorism suspects. Some officials describe the program as a large data-mining operation.
Historically, the American intelligence community has had close relationships with many communications and computer firms and related technical industries. But the N.S.A.'s backdoor access to major telecommunications switches on American soil with the cooperation of major corporations represents a significant expansion of the agency's operational capability, according to current and former government officials.
Spy Agency Mined Vast Data Trove, Officials Report - New York Times
Related link in which I have a sudden, strange new interest: