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How the NSA could use cryptography to enhance users’ privacy

Cryptography tools could allow intelligence analysts to explore phone records while shielding records against disclosures or unessential searches.

By CBR Staff Writer

A Microsoft researcher has suggested that cryptography tools could be integrated with intelligence agencies to limit user data collection, while still allowing them to carry out their jobs and avoid data misuses.

Dubbed ‘MetaCrypt’, the new system designed by Microsoft cryptography researcher Seny Kamara claim to allow intelligence analysts explore phone records while ensuring privacy of the data.

Developed amid ongoing NSA’s phone surveillance programme fiasco, Kamara’s new system is claimed to store phone records in a highly encrypted form and allow agencies to search by just entering the relevant phone number, according to MIT Technology Review.

"The goal of this project is to explore how (national) security and privacy can be reconciled through the use of advanced cryptography," Kamara noted.

In a bid not to disclose the information about what is being searched for, the system delivers the query numbers to the data store in an encrypted form.

However, the retrieved records would get self-encrypted, and would not be useful to intruders who snoop on them when being retrieved to the analyst who made the query.

The MetaCrypt design also comes with a method that assures only sanctioned searches are carried out in the first place.

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