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Close that incognito tab! The NSA is logging the porn habits of ‘radicalizers’

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What’s the one online activity that most people don’t want anyone to know about? Porn watching habits, of course. Which is why it should come as no surprise that the National Security Agency has used its powers of surveillance to snoop on exactly that, reports the Huffington Post.

Now, don’t start deleting your browser history just yet. According to documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the NSA’s porn-spying activities targeted just six individuals, only one of whom was identified as a “U.S. person,” meaning he is either an American citizen or a permanent resident. All six individuals targeted by the NSA are Muslim, and were selected because the agency believed them to be “radicalizers” who used YouTube, Facebook, and other social media to indoctrinate “extremist” views in “individuals who do not yet hold extremist views but who are susceptible to the extremist message,” according to the document. By spying on these individuals’ porn habits and other online sexual activity, the NSA could use that information to discredit them in the eyes of their presumably religious audiences.

“Some of the vulnerabilities, if exposed, would likely call into question a radicaliser’s devotion to the jihadist cause, leading to the degradation or loss of his authority,” reads the document. It goes on to explain that evidence against one targeted individual included “viewing sexually explicit material online or using sexually explicit persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls.”

None of the six targeted individuals are believed to have taken part in any terrorist plots themselves. But the NSA and FBI believed that their views could lead others to carry out attacks.

While nobody is going to argue against using surveillance to expose extremist pedophiles, especially if it helps prevent terrorism, privacy advocates warn that there is no reason to believe that the NSA’s porn snooping is limited to only reprehensible individuals.

“Wherever you are, the NSA’s databases store information about your political views, your medical history, your intimate relationships and your activities online,” Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Huffington Post. “The NSA says this personal information won’t be abused, but these documents show that the NSA probably defines ‘abuse’ very narrowly.”

[Image via jwblinn/Shutterstock]

Andrew Couts
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Features Editor for Digital Trends, Andrew Couts covers a wide swath of consumer technology topics, with particular focus on…
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