Citing current and former NSA officials for the 75 percent figure, the paper reported that the agency can observe more of Americans' online communications than officials have publicly acknowledged.
The NSA's system of programs that filter communications, achieved with the help of telecommunications companies, is designed to look for communications that either start or end abroad, or happen to pass through the U.S. between foreign countries. However, the officials told the Journal that the system's reach is so broad, that it is more likely that purely domestic communications will be intercepted as a byproduct of the hunt for foreign ones.
The system works by using algorithms that act as filters, designed to let high-value information through amid more benign chatter. However, after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, a former to intelligence official told the Journal that the government changed its definition of "reasonable" intelligence collection, enabling the NSA to widen the holes in the "filtering" system. Read more >>