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NSA Gathers Almost 200 Million Text Messages Daily

Jan 17, 2014 · 2 min read

The NSA is collecting millions “not targeted” text messages worldwide on a daily basis.
An NSA program is called ‘Dishfire’ and it collects and stores almost 200 million worldwide SMS messages every day, reported by ‘The Guardian’, citing documents that were provided by the Edward Snowden, the NSA whistle-blower. This program exceeds existing surveillance targets and based on the report it collects “pretty much everything it can”.
The NSA has extracted information for instance, financial transactions, contact books, people’s travel plans and more, including of individuals with no suspicion of illegal activity.

GCHQ, the UK spy agency, also made the use of NSA’s database for searches of communications of people that live in the United Kingdom. The documents suggest some communications made by US phone numbers have been deleted from the database, not those of other countries.
The NSA also developed a program which is known as Prefer conducted “automated analysis” of the text messages. In accordance with ‘The Guardian’, the NSA was able to get the following information from the text messages:

  • More than 5M missed-call alerts, used for contact-chaining analysis
  • Details of 1.6M border crossers a day
  • More than 110,000 electronic business cards and it included the ability to extract images
  • Over 800,000 money transactions, either through binding credit cards to phone users or text-to-text payments


NSA’s spokeswoman told that the ‘Dishfire’ system stores and processes lawfully collected SMS data. “We have previously stated, that the implication that NSA’s collection is unconstrained and arbitrary is not true. NSA’s activities are specially deployed and focused against only valid foreign intelligence targets” she said.
The Guardian said that the GCHQ wouldn’t respond to questions about the ‘Dishfire’, but they responded that its’ work is “carried in accordance with legal policy framework that ensures our activities are proportionate, authorised and necessary.”

Christina Craig
Christina Craig successVerified author

Christina is a community manager and the heart, the voice and the soul of NordVPN. She is always up for a conversation with our community of users and blog readers.

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