Information collected through a U.S. government surveillance program that taps into the servers of internet companies targets only non-U.S. persons living outside the United States, a senior administration official said on Thursday.

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

"This program was recently reauthorized by Congress after extensive hearings and debate," the official said. "Information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats."

(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Eric Beech)