NSA Demanded Access To Un-Filtered Instagram Photos

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In addition to collecting vast amounts of private user data from Facebook, Google, and Apple, the National Security Agency has demanded access to millions of un-filtered Instagram photos. A leaked email correspondence between a high-ranking surveillance officer in the NSA’s PRISM program and Instagram’s co-founder Kevin Systrom was made exclusively available to The Faster Times.

“The NSA is concerned that the arty filters and special effects on your product are being used to conceal suspicious or illegal activity,” reads the email dated mid-April 2013. “We require that all un-filtered shots be made available to our data collection services.”

The officer then threatened legal action before concluding, “Respectfully, Mr. Systrom, you’d be amazed how many terrorist training camps you can hide behind a Nashville filter.”

Systrom turned down the request stating that the un-filtered original shots did not belong to Instagram, but did invite the NSA to “follow” him on the networking site.

An in-office email leaked from a later date showed the NSA’s frustration with Instagram’s decision.

“Systrom is building tools for espionage,” the unnamed officer wrote. “Frankly, if someone is using a Valencia filter, artificial frame, and a carefully-arranged tilt-shift for an alleged holiday photo, they must have something to hide.”

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Catherine Sylvain
Catherine Sylvain lives in Pittsburgh. Follow her on twitter @catsylvain ...read more

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