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:
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.”