Just hours before President Obama's scheduled speech announcing changes to the NSA, the Guardian dropped another Edward Snowden-provided scoop: The NSA collects and stores an average of 194 million text messages per day from around the world, including from people who are not the targets of any investigation.
According to Snowden's documents, the program—codenamed Dishfire—gathers "pretty much everything it can" in order to provide information about people's locations, financial transactions, travel plans, and more. From the Guardian:
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.
The NSA also shares the "untargeted and unwarranted" information with British spy agency GCHQ. According to the documents, the database includes information from phone numbers in the UK and other countries, but information gathered from Americans was removed or "minimized."
The news is the latest evidence that the NSA monitors nearly every form of electronic communication: Six weeks ago it was revealed that the NSA collects information hundreds of millions of cell phones around the world, and on Wednesday, the New York Times published an article explaining how the NSA uses secret radio waves to spy on 100,000 computers that aren't online.
[Image via AP]