According to top-secret documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency was authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2010 to spy in one way or another on 90,000 targets in 193 countries. Any country that was not part of the "Five Eyes" group (a joint operation with spy agencies in U.S., England, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) was a potential target.
This certification from the court also allowed the NSA to gather intelligence about entities including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to The Washington Post.
It should be noted that, though the NSA was given broad authority to spy on targets in many regions throughout the world, it does not necessarily mean that the agency did so – it simply means that it could do so if it wanted to.
"These documents show both the potential scope of the government’s surveillance activities and the exceedingly modest role the court plays in overseeing them," said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, who had the documents described to him by the Washington Post.
But not everyone sees this broad certification from the court as nefarious. A former senior defense official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that the NSA needs this authorization to lend intelligence support for the military in all kinds of situations. He or she used a humanitarian crisis as an example:
"It’s not impossible to imagine a humanitarian crisis in a country that’s friendly to the United States, where the military might be expected on a moment’s notice to go in and evacuate all Americans. If that certification did not list the country the NSA could not gather intelligence under the law."
Source: The Escapist