It is alleged that the NSA (US National Security Agency) has created its own search engine. According to The Intercept Investigation site, the ‘Google- like’ search engine is made up of billions of digital records which the NSA can share with federal law enforcement and other government agencies.
The engine is named ICREACH, and appears to provide information on “millions of American citizens who have not been accused of any wrongdoing” according to The Intercept. Documentation shows that ICREACH has access to more than 850 billion records on phone calls, e-mails, cell phone locations and internet chats, however, it does not appear to have any links to the NSA database that was previously revealed to have access to millions of phone calls. The collating of this sort of information is legal under the USA Patriot Act.
A NSA memo from 2010 states that in excess of 1,000 analysts at 23 different US agencies that are involved in intelligence related work have access to the ICREACH database.
The Intercept alleges that the search engine is “the first definitive evidence that the NSA has for years made massive amounts of surveillance data directly accessible to domestic law enforcement agencies”.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence was quick to respond to The Intercept’s findings. It confirmed that ICREACH shares data under the authorization of Executive Order 12333, which is described by the The Intercept as “a controversial Reagan-era presidential directive that underpins several NSA bulk surveillance operations that target foreign communications networks. The 12333 surveillance takes place with no court oversight and has received minimal congressional scrutiny because it is targeted at foreign, not domestic, communication networks.”
A DNI spokesman described this dissemination of information as “a pillar of the post-9/11 intelligence community.”
It seems that opinion is still divided about Governmental digital collation of information. A threat to personal freedom, or a vital tool in keeping the world free from terrorism? It looks like the jury will continue to be out for a long time over this debate.