We already know that the government has been collecting a lot of personal information on both foreigners and American citizens. But, did you know it also has a massive search engine to help sort through the data and share it across a bunch of agencies?
It's true. ICREACH is like Google for government spying. It helps government agencies sort through all of the metadata they've secretly gathered. Metadata is information about surveillance, like the "to" and "from" sections on an email or the time a message was sent. It also includes location information from cellphone calls! The system now includes 30 different kinds of metadata.
ICREACH contains information on the private communications of foreigners and, it appears, millions of records on American citizens who have not been accused of any wrongdoing. Details about its existence are contained in the archive of materials provided to "The Intercept" by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
That's a lot of info. In fact, ICREACH contains over 850 billion records! And, the system can handle 2 to 5 billion new records every day! The NSA is in charge of the project. The FBI, DEA, CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency are also major participants, but ICREACH is used by 23 agencies in all.
ICREACH has been around since 2007. It's supposed to help fight terrorism by letting agencies have a one-stop shop to collect and share information on "worldwide intelligence targets." But, sometimes American citizens can get caught in that surveillance, too. That's scary because there isn't much oversight to stop government agencies from infringing on your rights without your knowledge.
But the broad scale of 12333 surveillance means that some Americans’ communications get caught in the dragnet as they transit international cables or satellites—and documents contained in the Snowden archive indicate that ICREACH taps into some of that data.
That means your information could end up in a huge government search engine. That's why it's important to protect your privacy. Click here make encrypted calls the NSA can't hack from your smartphone for free.