A recent report has revealed that the United States National Security Agency (NSA) has been accessing millions of contact lists from personal email and instant messaging accounts globally to find suspected links to terrorism and other criminal activities.
The NSA also collects about a half million buddy lists from live chat services and email accounts and analyzes the contacts to map connections between several foreign intelligence targets, the Huffington Post reports.
Earlier, there were reports that the spy agency intercepts thousands of email address books every day from private accounts on Yahoo, Gmail, Facebook and Hotmail that move through global data links.
The NSA collection tactics were exposed in the secret documents provided by NSA leaker Edward Snowden and confirmed by senior intelligence officials, the report added.
According to the report, the spy agency has been obtaining the contact lists through secret arrangements with foreign telecommunications companies or other services that control Internet traffic globally as bulk collection of contact lists is illegal.