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Experts dispute NSA leaker's claim about wiretapping

Published: Thursday, July 30 2015 10:10 p.m. MDT

This photo provided by The Guardian Newspaper in London shows Edward Snowden, who worked as a contract employee at the National Security Agency, in Hong Kong, Sunday, June 9, 2013.  (The Guardian) This photo provided by The Guardian Newspaper in London shows Edward Snowden, who worked as a contract employee at the National Security Agency, in Hong Kong, Sunday, June 9, 2013. (The Guardian)

Edward Snowden, the man claiming responsibility for the NSA leak, said in an interview with The Guardian that he had the power "to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president" while he was working as a systems administrator for various defense contractors, including Dell and Booz Allen.

But experts are challenging the claim made by the 29-year-old who is currently in Hong Kong.

NPR's Mark Memmot reports Carrie Cordero, the director of national securities studies at Georgetown University Law Center, spoke with Steve Henn on NPR's Morning Edition on Wednesday and told Henn "the notion that this individual has the authority to go ahead and ... 'wiretap' people is just ridiculous."

Susan Freiwald, a cyber law and policy expert at the University of San Fransisco, said, "It's now clear that Verizon and several other of the major telecom companies have been asked on a rolling basis for all metadata for all of their customers."

But Henn says metadata does not include the content of conversations.

"For an analyst sitting in Hawaii to initiate a wiretap on anyone anywhere, he or she would need much, much more," Henn told NPR. "Perhaps most notably, the ability to monitor new calls, emails and chats in real-time."

Editor's Note: The original version of this story posted on June 12, 2013, failed to properly follow our editorial policies. The story was shortened on Oct. 8, 2013 to fall within our editorial guidelines for aggregation.

Michael Smith is an intern in the news section of DeseretNews.com. A 2013 graduate of the University of Utah, he will be attending Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism in the fall.

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