The NSA’s tool, which is said to go by the name Xkeyscore, has previously been mentioned by whistleblower Edward Snowden, among others. But according to some observers, the latest information comes from a different source.
The two German broadcasters, Norddeutscher Rundfunk and Westdeutscher Rundfunk, do not reveal their sources for the new discovery, but claim to be former NSA employees and experts. According to the sources, Xkeyscore is to be actively used by the NSA today.
Above all, it is the anonymization network Tor that is mentioned in the report. Tor is a popular tool that allows users to hide their tracks on the internet, and even bypass firewalls in countries that censor parts of the internet.
Tor was originally started by the US Navy, and has previously been a thorn in the side of the NSA.
According to the German broadcasters’ report, the NSA uses Xkeyscore to monitor two servers in the Tor network, one of which is located in Germany and which acts as one of the main pillars of the network.
The report claims that Xkeyscore can identify those using Tor. However, the monitoring is designed in such a way that it does not collect information about users in five countries, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. This is because these countries cooperate in terms of information exchange.
In addition to Tor, the report states that other anonymization networks are monitored such as Hotspotshield, Freenet, Centurian, Freeproxies.org, Megaproxy, Privacy.li and a service for anonymous e-mail called Mixminion.
The NSA states in a statement to the German broadcasters that the use of Xkeyscore does not violate any US laws.
You can find the report in its entirety here.