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Law Enforcement Can Scour Data on Citizens with NSA Search Engine

The United States National Security Agency has built a massive information sharing system intended to allow intelligence community analysts from across the US government access hundreds of billions of records detailing the lives of people the world over.

Photo credit: Reuters / Stephen Lam

Photo credit: Reuters / Stephen Lam

This “Google-like” search engine, according to journalist Ryan Gallagher at The Intercept, was developed by the NSA as early as 2007, but was only made publicly available on Monday this week thanks to classified documents disclosed to the news site by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.


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Image from firstlook.org

Image from firstlook.org

According to the leaked documents and Gallagher’s own reporting, the ICREACH search engine created by the NSA lets analysts from nearly two-dozen other government agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Agency, among others, share an array of sensitive details collected by the US intelligence community and its partners concerning not just foreign terror suspects, but “millions of records on American citizens who have not been accused of any wrongdoing,” Gallagher wrote.

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“ICREACH has been accessible to more than 1,000 analysts at 23 US government agencies that perform intelligence work, according to a 2010 memo. A planning document from 2007 lists the DEA, FBI, Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency as core members. Information shared through ICREACH can be used to track people’s movements, map out their networks of associates, help predict future actions and potentially reveal religious affiliations or political beliefs,” Gallagher wrote.

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