kunc-header-1440x90.png
NPR for Northern Colorado
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

The NSA Says It Can't Search Its Own Email

A new National Security Agency (NSA) data center in Bluffdale, Utah. The center, a large data farm, is set to open in the fall of 2013.
George Frey
/
Getty Images
A new National Security Agency (NSA) data center in Bluffdale, Utah. The center, a large data farm, is set to open in the fall of 2013.

Over the past weeks, we have learned the National Security Agency has the capability to collect and sift through massive amounts of electronic data produced throughout the world.

Today, ProPublica reports that when it comes to parsing email sent by its own employees, the United States' spy agency does not have the technology for it.

At least that's what the investigative outfit said the NSA told them in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

ProPublica reports:

"'There's no central method to search an email at this time with the way our records are set up, unfortunately,' NSA Freedom of Information Act officer Cindy Blacker told me last week.

"The system is 'a little antiquated and archaic,' she added.

"I filed a request last week for emails between NSA employees and employees of the National Geographic Channel over a specific time period. The TV station had aired a friendly documentary on the NSA and I want to better understand the agency's public-relations efforts.

"A few days after filing the request, Blacker called, asking me to narrow my request since the FOIA office can search emails only 'person by person,' rather than in bulk. The NSA has more than 30,000 employees."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Related Content
  • News reports have revealed the National Security Agency is data-mining Internet and social media companies including Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and Google. According to reports, the agency is also collecting Verizon phone records of millions of U.S. citizens. For more, Renee Montagne talks to Glenn Greenwald, the reporter who co-wrote the stories for the British newspaper The Guardian.
  • The Utah Data Center, 26 miles south of Salt Lake City, will begin operations in September. Though the NSA director has said it won't hold data on U.S. citizens, privacy advocates worry about the agency's expanding capabilities.
  • Journalist Glenn Greenwald said "NSA leaker" Edward Snowden collected thousands of documents to prove that what he is revealing is true. Some of them, Greenwald told The Associated Press, show exactly how the U.S. spy agency works.