New information released by The Guardian indicates the true extent of the NSA’s monitoring programmes. The United States National Security Agency collects 200 million text messages per day from carriers around the world, according to new leaks of top-secret NSA papers.
According to the leak, data extracted from the text messages includes location and network data, the cellular contact networks of millions of people, and even credit card information. The leak was investigated and analysed by The Guardian and Channel 4 News using documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
According to the documents, the UK’s GCHQ uses the information provided by the NSA as part of its programme of “untargeted and unwarranted” monitoring. Civil liberties advocates are concerned about the extent of the NSA and GCHQ database and monitoring activities.
Leaked GCHQ documents reveal that the NSA programme – dubbed Dishfire – tries to collect “pretty much everything it can” during its surveillance of text messaging and cell phone data. The leaked documents indicate that the surveillance system does not just collect communications data on specific surveillance targets.
The Guardian’s recent exposé of the programme reveals that it collects, on average:
- Upwards of 1.6 million daily border crossings from network roaming alerts
- Over 110,000 names from contact books and electronic business cards, as well as images and personal data
- Over 800,000 transactions through credit cards linked to cell phones
- Over 5 million alerts for missed calls, which can be used to work out a targeted person’s network of contacts
United States President Barack Obama faces increased attention as he responds to the recent review of the NSA conducted by an appointed panel. The panel suggests that the United States increase its level of respect for the privacy rights of non-US citizens, and discontinue its spying efforts against diplomats and world leaders.