NSA collects 5 billion cell phone records globally per day - The New Indian Express

NSA collects 5 billion cell phone records globally per day

Published: 05th December 2013 03:38 PM

Last Updated: 05th December 2013 03:38 PM

 America's secretive National

Security Agency is collecting nearly five billion cell phone

records a day about the precise locations of individuals,

including non-US citizens, a media report said today.


The startling revelations by The Washington Post are

based on the classified documents leaked by Edward Snowden, a

former CIA contractor who is currently on an asylum in Russia.


According to the daily, the NSA does not target

Americans' location data by design, but the agency acquires a

substantial amount of information on the whereabouts of

domestic cellphones "incidentally", a legal term that connotes

a foreseeable but not deliberate result.


One senior collection manager, speaking on the condition

of anonymity but with permission from the NSA, told The Post

"we are getting vast volumes" of location data from around the

world by tapping into the cables that connect mobile networks

globally and that serve US cellphones as well as foreign ones.


Additionally, data are often collected from the tens of

millions of Americans who travel abroad with their cellphones

every year, the official said.


US officials said the programs that collect and analyze

location data are lawful and intended strictly to develop

intelligence about foreign targets, the daily reported.


According to Robert Litt, general counsel for the Office

of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the

NSA, "there is no element of the intelligence community that

under any authority is intentionally collecting bulk cellphone

location information about cellphones in the United States."


Noting that the NSA has no reason to suspect that the

movements of the overwhelming majority of cellphone users

would be relevant to national security, the daily said the

agency collects locations in bulk because its most powerful

analytic tools — known collectively as CO-TRAVELER — allow it

to look for unknown associates of known intelligence targets

by tracking people whose movements intersect.


"Still, location data, especially when aggregated over

time, are widely regarded among privacy advocates as uniquely

sensitive. Sophisticated mathematical tech­niques enable NSA

analysts to map cellphone owners' relationships by correlating

their patterns of movement over time with thousands or

millions of other phone users who cross their paths.


Cellphones broadcast their locations even when they are not

being used to place a call or send a text message," it said.

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