The National Security Agency has secretly been unraveling encryption technology used worldwide to keep information safe on the Internet.
A new report by The New York Times, Britain’s Guardian newspaper and the website ProPublica describes how the NSA invested billions of dollars since 2000 to make nearly everyone’s secrets available for government consumption. It says the agency built powerful supercomputers to break encryption codes.
The revelations stem from documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden earlier this year. Those same documents this summer showed an effort by the U.S. government to gather and analyze all sorts of electronic data.
The revelations prompted a debate about the proper balance between civil liberties and security. President Barack Obama called the debate “healthy for our democracy” but criticized the leaks.