A major US newspaper is reporting that almost 90 percent of the data intercepted by the National Security Agency belonged to ordinary net users, not foreign surveillance targets.
The Washington Post on Sunday released the result of its analysis of the data released last year by former US security contractor Edward Snowden.
The paper says the analysis shows that the communications record of targeted foreigners consists of only about 11 percent of what the NSA secretly collected.
The rest were e-mails and other data of ordinary Internet users including many Americans. Post says some of the content was of an intimate nature.
Snowden reportedly said what the NSA has done crossed the line of legality.
The Washington Post says the spying on American citizens may constitute a major violation of privacy.
Faced with a strong reaction to the NSA's data interception, President Barack Obama and his administration have been putting together a plan to require a separate court order for individual interception.
But observers say the Post's revelation may lead to a new wave of criticism of the administration.
Jul. 6, 2014 - Updated 23:00 UTC