Nightly News   |  September 29, 2013

NSA has been exploiting American’s social connections

The NSA can identify associates, locations at certain times and other personal information --  all through your social connections. The security agency has been exploiting those links since 2010. NBC’s Michael Isikoff  reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> we learned this weekend about a major new component to the government's secret surveillance program. one that may now be coming back to haunt the very nature of social networking .

>> reporter: more classified documents leaked by ex-contractor and federal fugitive edward snowden disclose yet another nsa program that secretly collects permanent data on american citizens. the documents show the agency since 2011 has been building large scale graphics of foreign intelligence networks that include the social connections of some american citizens. accessing facebook, twitter accounts, bank codes, and even gps locational data.

>> the government is putting together databases from other personal and professional lives to basically tell a comprehensive story of how we live every day.

>> the nsa that all queries must be conducted for a purpose. and at a rare meeting, the u.s. intelligence committee vigorously defended the nsa's efforts and denounced the leaks lie snowden.

>> there's no way to make up for the damage that's already been done.

>> reporter: but they dodged questions about what is currently being done such as this exchange that tracks where a person has been from the cell phone in their pocket.

>> has the nsa ever collected or ever made any plans to collect american cell site information?

>> what i don't want to do is put out in an unclassified form anything that's classified here.

>> reporter: the nsa has repeatedly said there's been no willful instances. but they've been caught spying on their girlfriends, boyfriends and spouses.