‘Boundless Informant’ is the NSA’s Data Mining Tool

We now know the name of the NSA’s data mining tool - Boundless Informant. This powerful tool, developed by the NSA, details and maps by country the staggering amount of information it collects from computers and phone networks. Specifically, Boundless Informant counts and then catalogs metadata. The development of this tool has raised questions about the NSA’s repeated assurances to Congress that it cannot keep track of all the surveillance it performs on communications in the US. Their claim would appear to be untrue.

A fact sheet acquired by The Guardian says “The tool allows users to select a country on a map and view the metadata volume and select details about the collections against that country.” The fact sheet also states Boundless Informant can show “how many records (and what type) are collected against a particular country.”

boundless heatmap

A heatmap seen by The Guardian shows that each nation is color-coded based on how extensively it is surveilled by the NSA. The color scheme ranges from light green, the least surveilled to red being the most surveilled. In addition to this broad-range mapping, it has been discovered that individual IP addresses can be tracked, and that the NSA would be able to determine how many of them are from the US.

IP addresses can determine a person’s location and “if you don’t take steps to hide it, the IP address provided by your internet provider will certainly tell you what country, state and, typically, city you are in,” says Chris Soghoian, the principal technologist with the Speech Privacy and Technology Project of the ACLU.

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