Unified Targeting Tool

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The Unified Targeting Tool (UTT) is a software program used by NSA to select targets for surveillance. It has gained attention as one of the programs exposed by Edward Snowden. It is mentioned as part of the PRISM program, and in other documents.[1]

The screen captures show that the program is a web-based application accessible through an intranet, Internet Explorer 6 is shown in one sample.[2] The tool has the ability to query at least one database, NYMROD, which appears to be a database of names. The screen captures suggest that tool has the ability to filter by nationality (it is possible to enter multiple nationalities), location, and "target extension" (the given example is "D Diplomatic"). The analyst is also able to enter a classification string, and include a declassification date, in the sample given: 20320108 is code for January 8, 2032. There is a category labeled "Intelligence Purpose Information," in which the analyst is able to select a geopolitical area, topic and subtopic.[3] The screen captures suggest that the tool gives the analyst the option of suggesting how often to forward new intelligence, and enter a reason for any higher priority requests.[2]

The tool has the ability to build queries regardless of whether the target's name is known. The target may be a person, but that may not always be the case.[3] The analyst must enter a short justification, and select a foreignness factor.[2][3] Foreign factors include: "person is a user of storage media seized outside the US," "the person has indicated that he is located outside the US," "In direct contact w/ tgt oversees, no info to show proposed tgt in US," among others. The presence of a ZIP code field on one of the released screen captures suggests that the tool may have the ability to collect within the United States, and not be limited to foreign intelligence gathering. There is a field for "Special Authorization," presumably for targets that the analyst needs special approval to select, such as US persons, or foreigners presently located within the US. The screen captures suggest that the tool requires the analyst to enter a start and end date for the authorization, and a separate end date for the targeting itself to cease.[3]

According to still undisclosed NSA documents from the collection of Edward Snowden, the UTT replaced the telephony targeting system OCTAVE in 2011.[4]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Published: June 6, 2013, Updated July 10, 2013 (2013-07-10). "NSA slides explain the PRISM data-collection program". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-01-30.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ a b c Glenn Greenwald. "XKeyscore: NSA tool collects 'nearly everything a user does on the internet' | World news". theguardian.com. Retrieved 2014-01-30.
  3. ^ a b c d "NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year, audit finds". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-01-30.
  4. ^ Marcel Rosenbach & Holger Stark, Der NSA Komplex, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, München 2014, p. 344