NSA scoops up millions of text messages

NSA scoops up millions of text messages

Summary: The US National Security Agency has collected almost 200 million mobile phone text messages a day from around the world, according to the latest revelations from the Edward Snowden files.

TOPICS: Privacy, Security

The Guardian newspaper and Britain's Channel 4 News have reported that the NSA used SMS messages to extract data on the location, contact networks and credit card details of mobile users.

British spies were given access by the NSA to search the collected "metadata" — information about the text messages but not the actual contents — of British citizens, according to the report.

The secret files say the program, codenamed Dishfire, collects "pretty much everything it can", the Guardian and Channel 4 News reported.

Dishfire works by collecting and analysing automated text messages such as missed call alerts or texts sent to inform users about international roaming charges, the news organisations said.

It was also able to work out phone users' credit card numbers using texts from banks.

They cited an internal NSA presentation from 2011 on the program and papers from Britain's electronic eavesdropping facility GCHQ

There was no immediate reaction from the NSA. GCHQ said it worked within British law.

"All of GCHQ's work is carried out in accordance with the strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate and that there is rigorous oversight," it said in a statement.

The report comes a day before US President Barack Obama is due to give a long-awaited speech proposing curbs on NSA phone and internet data dragnets exposed by fugitive intelligence contractor Snowden.

Snowden remains in exile in Russia, where he has been granted temporary asylum.

Topics: Privacy, Security

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  • NSA "we just collect metadata"

    and if you believe that you'll probably believe the folks who buy Playboy and Hustler "for the articles" but never look at the pictures.
  • Snowden is NOT a hero here

    Allow me to pretend that I'm not dumbfounded that anybody with any history in the field of technology and/or politics didn't know that widespread government snooping was going on...

    Snowden is not a hero. The ends do not justify the means. What he has done is revealed to the world surveillance programs that actually may have been effective against those malicious actors too dumb to know that such programs existed. Ironically, the complaints about spying on citizens and allies (which I oppose) has been inspired only by high-minded principles rather than any incidents stemming from abuse of such power.

    I cannot imagine that anyone with a real problem with a huge government abusing its power over its own citizens would find comfort in either China or Russia. It seems to be that Snowden's real aim was to shame America.