The Two-Way
6:42 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

The NSA Says It Can't Search Its Own Email

Originally published on Wed July 24, 2013 9:22 am

Over the past weeks, we have learned the National Security Agency has the capability to collect and sift through massive amounts of electronic data produced throughout the world.

Today, ProPublica reports that when it comes to parsing email sent by its own employees, the United States' spy agency does not have the technology for it.

At least that's what the investigative outfit said the NSA told them in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

ProPublica reports:

"'There's no central method to search an email at this time with the way our records are set up, unfortunately,' NSA Freedom of Information Act officer Cindy Blacker told me last week.

"The system is 'a little antiquated and archaic,' she added.

"I filed a request last week for emails between NSA employees and employees of the National Geographic Channel over a specific time period. The TV station had aired a friendly documentary on the NSA and I want to better understand the agency's public-relations efforts.

"A few days after filing the request, Blacker called, asking me to narrow my request since the FOIA office can search emails only 'person by person,' rather than in bulk. The NSA has more than 30,000 employees."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.