Internet tapping aimed at non-US people outside US, says official

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Information collected through a US government surveillance programme that taps into the servers of internet companies targets only non-US persons living outside the United States, a senior administration official said.

The US law that allows the collection of data under this programme does not allow the targeting of any US citizen or of any person located in the United States, the official said on Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"This programme was recently reauthorised by Congress after extensive hearings and debate," the official said.

"Information collected under this programme is among the most important and valuable intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats."