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Snowden: More to come on US 'direct access' to Internet data


US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden said Monday he will release more details on how he says the National Security Agency can gain direct access to Internet data on private sector servers.

"More detail on how direct NSA's accesses are is coming," he said, in an online interview hosted by the Guardian newspaper, repeating his allegation that US federal agents have access to private users' emails and web traffic.

Last month, Snowden quit his job as a contractor working for the US National Security Agency in Hawaii, fled to Hong Kong and then began leaking details of vast programs to gather telephone call records and monitor Internet traffic.

The US government has condemned the leak but partially confirmed his allegations, insisting that the previously secret programs are vital tools in the intelligence services' battle to protect America from terrorism.

The degree to which US agencies have direct access to private communications stored on servers operated by private Internet giants has proved to be one of the more controversial aspects of his revelations.

Firms like Google and Facebook say they provide information only when presented with a court order, and deny that they have effectively given the NSA "back door" access directly to their data banks.

But Snowden repeated his allegation that almost any intelligence analyst with access to the NSA signals intelligence database could access almost anyone's emails or phone metadata and that warrants are rarely audited.

"They can enter and get results for anything they want," he said.

"Phone number, email, user ID, cell phone handset ID (IMEI), and so on. It's all the same. The restrictions against this are policy based, not technically based, and can change at any time," he said.

"Americans' communications are collected and viewed on a daily basis on the certification of an analyst rather than a warrant," he alleged.

"They excuse this as 'incidental' collection, but at the end of the day, someone at NSA still has the content of your communications.

"If I target, for example, an email address ... and that email address sent something to you, Joe America, the analyst gets it. All of it. IPs, raw data, content, headers, attachments, everything."