NSA collects millions of text messages daily in ‘untargeted’ global sweep
James Ball, The Guardian
Thursday 16 January 2014 13.55 EST
On average, each day the NSA was able to extract:
More than 5 million missed-call alerts, for use in contact-chaining analysis (working out someone’s social network from who they contact and when) Details of 1.6 million border crossings a day, from network roaming alerts More than 110,000 names, from electronic business cards, which also included the ability to extract and save images. Over 800,000 financial transactions, either through text-to-text payments or linking credit cards to phone users
The agency was also able to extract geolocation data from more than 76,000 text messages a day, including from “requests by people for route info” and “setting up meetings”. Other travel information was obtained from itinerary texts sent by travel companies, even including cancellations and delays to travel plans.
In a statement to the Guardian, a spokeswoman for the NSA said any implication that the agency’s collection was “arbitrary and unconstrained is false”. The agency’s capabilities were directed only against “valid foreign intelligence targets” and were subject to stringent legal safeguards, she said.
Vodafone, one of the world’s largest mobile phone companies with operations in 25 countries including Britain, greeted the latest revelations with shock.
“It’s the first we’ve heard about it and naturally we’re shocked and surprised,” the group’s privacy officer and head of legal for privacy, security and content standards told Channel 4 News.
“What you’re describing sounds concerning to us because the regime that we are required to comply with is very clear and we will only disclose information to governments where we are legally compelled to do so, won’t go beyond the law and comply with due process.
“But what you’re describing is something that sounds as if that’s been circumvented. And for us as a business this is anathema because our whole business is founded on protecting privacy as a fundamental imperative.”
He said the company would be challenging the UK government over this. “From our perspective, the law is there to protect our customers and it doesn’t sound as if that is what is necessarily happening.”
Emphasis mine. Obama speaks on his proposed changes to the NSA’s illegal and Unconstitutional universal wiretapping program tomorrow. It’s highly unlikely he’ll propose any real reform, after all he’s unwilling to endorse even the limited changes suggested by his own task force who’s mission as you’ll recall is not to restore our Constitutional privacy protections, but the credibility of the NSA.
I think that ship has sailed boys.