NSA spying on 200 million phone messages a day

This video is called New revelations show NSA collects 200 million text messages a day.

By Patrick O’Connor:

NSA collects nearly 200 million phone text messages a day

17 January 2014

Britain’s Guardian and Channel Four television news programme yesterday released documents from former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden detailing yet another mass US surveillance operation. Under the codename Dishfire, the NSA has been intercepting and permanently storing the metadata and content of billions of mobile phone text messages sent by ordinary people around the world.

The latest material from Snowden has been published at the same time as President Barack Obama is attempting to legitimise ongoing domestic surveillance of US citizens, under the guise of intelligence “reform” (see: “Obama’s NSA ‘reform’ defends illegal spying”).

The details of the ongoing Dishfire operation further expose the Obama administration’s empty rhetoric about respecting the rule of law and the rights of the people. The internal NSA PowerPoint slide outlining Dishfire’s capacities makes clear from the very beginning that it is aimed not at intercepting the communications of specific individuals deemed terrorists or security threats, but rather at collecting the text messages of everyone in every country around the world.

The slides, dated June 2011, begin with a series of statistics, including: 77 percent of the world’s population has a mobile phone subscription, text messages were “still king of mobile messaging”, and the “typical mobile subscriber sends and receives more SMS text messages than telephone calls.”

The document’s banner slide features the following: “SMS Text Messages: A Goldmine to Exploit.”

In April 2011, the slideshow detailed, the NSA collected and stored 194.2 million text messages a day. This rate of interception has likely increased significantly in the past two and a half years, given the value of the program to the US intelligence agencies and their international counterparts in the “Five Eyes” alliance (Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand).

One of the leaked NSA documents reportedly included a warning from a Dishfire operative that the program was being “overwhelmed” by demand, and asked analysts to limit their searches to no more than 1,800 phone numbers at a time.

The slideshow published by the Guardian includes a Venn diagram for the intercepted text messages, showing “metadata” in one circle, “message content” in another, and a smiley face in the overlapping area. Metadata and content together, the document declared, “leads to analytic gems”, with the “rich data set awaiting exploitation.”

The NSA’s sweeping violation of basic rights is made clear in the final slide of the document, which explained that the nearly 200 million messages intercepted every day included missed calls, SIM card changes, roaming information (from mobile phone companies texting customers when they cross into another country), and travel (“itinerary including multiple flights” and “changes: cancellations, reschedules, delays”).

Moreover, the NSA was able to pick up electronic business cards (including images that could be extracted) and geocoordinates, including “requests by people for route info”, “setting up meetings at a location”, and “tracking information.” Finally, the document continued, Dishfire can “track financial information”, monitor money transfers, and “correlate credit cards to individuals.”

According to the Guardian, the leaked documents “suggest” that “communications from US phone numbers were removed (or ‘minimized’) from the database.” This likely counts for little—previously leaked documents from Edward Snowden made clear the contempt with which senior political and intelligence figures held the American people and their constitutional rights.

There are no restrictions whatsoever placed on the interception of phone messages of non-American nationals, and the sharing of that intelligence with Washington’s allies. This has been used as another way of circumventing domestic laws barring or limiting surveillance by the “Five Eyes” members of their own citizens. Both the Guardian and Channel Four detailed the way in which the British counterpart to the NSA, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), used Dishfire to collect and examine British citizens’ text messages.

A leaked GCHQ document from May 2008 informed analysts: “Dishfire collects pretty much everything it can… Using Dishfire is really quite simple. Enter your [telephone] numbers, fill in the rest of the query form and off you go.”

The GCHQ memo added: “DISHFIRE contains a large volume of unselected SMS traffic… it is possible to examine the content of messages sent months or even years before the target was known to be of interest” (original emphasis).

It explained that the NSA program was “especially useful for untargeted and unwarranted UK numbers”—in other words it could be used to avoid the need for warrants and allowed for sweeping dragnets of the population, rather than targeting specific or selected individuals. The GCHQ’s exploitation of Dishfire was undoubtedly replicated by the intelligence agencies of Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, as well as the US, against their own citizens.

Obama’s NSA ‘reforms’ are little more than a PR attempt to mollify the public | Glenn Greenwald: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

39 thoughts on “NSA spying on 200 million phone messages a day

    • Thanks for commenting, Jalal! I would say this grave problem is caused more by unelected power hungry bureaucratic apparatuses than by personalities of Obama or other elected officials.


      • All the same, Obama, could give Snowden, a pardon, of course this would wreck Obama’s, career, the price of having a conscience and acting on it is usually a high price to pay, as Snowden, would by now know, to be a hunted man by the CIA, as opposed to a comfortable existence with his wife, is a high price, taking note of one of America’s recent state killings by lethal injection and what? 20 minutes to die on a cocktail of injections, could be Snowden’s fate if found.


  1. Pingback: Canadian spies lied to the courts | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: European parliament invites whistleblower Edward Snowden | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Edward Snowden’s life threatened by United States spies | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: NSA spying is illegal, Privacy Board says | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Pingback: Edward Snowden on NSA industrial espionage | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Pingback: United States NSA recruiting child spies | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  7. Pingback: NSA spying on Angry Birds, other smartphone apps | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  8. Pingback: NSA spying on political views of millions of of cellphone users | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  9. Pingback: NSA spying scandals continue | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  10. Pingback: Edward Snowden and journalists threatened | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  11. Pingback: NSA spying, Edward Snowden and the European Parliament | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  12. Pingback: NSA spying threatens journalism | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  13. Pingback: NSA, Australian economic spying on Indonesia and United States lawyers | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  14. Pingback: Over one million petition for Brazilian asylum for Snowden | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  15. Pingback: NSA hacking Snowden’s biographer’s computer? | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  16. Pingback: Edward Snowden denounces global spying | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  17. Pingback: CIA violates United States constitution, Senator Feinstein says | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  18. Pingback: NSA spying on Merkel investigation | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  19. Pingback: ‘Rupert Murdoch burglary to steal MP’s phone’ | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  20. Pingback: Writers, media self-censoring because of NSA spying | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  21. Pingback: NSA spying illegal, United States court rules | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  22. Pingback: United States NSA political, economic espionage on Japanese allies | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  23. Pingback: United States Republican candidates and wars | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  24. Pingback: Dutch government wants spying on all citizens | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  25. Pingback: Oliver Stone’s new film on Edward Snowden | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  26. Pingback: Dutch government loses privacy referendum | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  27. Pingback: Facebook ‘s Zuckerberg wants more internet censorship | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  28. Pingback: United States veterans denounce Pentagon wars | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  29. Pingback: Ross Perot, United States billionaire politician, dies | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  30. Pingback: Ecuadorian workers strike for Assange’s freedom, Galapagos | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  31. Pingback: Dutch ‘intelligence’ illegally spying on citizens | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  32. Pingback: Spying causes injustice for killed English teenager | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  33. Pingback: ‘Mark Zuckerberg Hospital should be renamed’ | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.