NSA collects millions of text messages

Investigation by UK media alleges information collected by NSA's program included locations, contact networks, and credit card details.

NSA collects millions of text messages

World Bulletin / News Desk

America's largest spy agency has been globally collecting around 200 million text messages a-day, according to new files leaked by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

A joint investigation of the files by the UK’s Guardian newspaper and Channel 4 News alleges that information collected by the NSA's "Dishfire" program included locations, contact networks, and credit card details.

The files have raised concerns that the UK’s communications headquarters GCHQ has broken Britain's privacy laws as it appears to have used the database to search the metadata of UK citizens.

GCHQ is not legally allowed to search message contents without a warrant, however the NSA appears to be unrestrained by such laws.

The files reveal that GCHQ asked its analysts to search under ‘events’ data which would prevent agents from seeing the content of the messages.

A GCHQ memo revealed by the investigation outlined the usefulness of the Dishfire program,

“In contrast to GCHQ equivalents, DISHFIRE contains a large volume of unselected SMS traffic,” it said. “This makes it particularly useful for the development of new targets, since it is possible to examine the content of messages sent months or even years before the target was known to be of interest.”

The NSA automatically removes all SMS information held on Americans, but there are no such restrictions on foreign citizens' details.

United States President Barack Obama on Friday called for an overhaul of the NSA’s Phone Data Collection Program

The New York Times reported that an administration official had said Obama will require intelligence agencies to apply for permission from a secret court before they can tap into a telephone data database, but the data will for now remain in the hands of the government.

Documents released by former NSA contractor Snowden since July 2012 revealed that the NSA spied on world leaders, as well as American and foreign citizens.

Relations between the US and Germany hit levels not seen since the 2003 Iraq war when documents revealed that the NSA had monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone.

Snowden fled America last year and is currently residing in Russia.

When approached, a GCHQ spokesman told Anadolu Agency in statement that it had a long-standing policy not to comment on intelligence matters.

It did, however, assert that its work is carried out in accordance with a "strict legal and policy framework" under UK Parliamentary guidelines,

Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee has previously concluded that allegations that "GCHQ circumvented UK law" are unfounded, while Prime Minister David Cameron said last year that he was "satisfied that the work these agencies do is not only vital but is properly overseen."

The Guardian has come under intense pressure for its reporting on information contained in the files. The head of the counterterrorism unit at Scotland Yard - the headquarters for the London Metropolitan police - told a Parliamentry commitee in December that the newspaper may have commited terrorism by releasing such information.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Ocak 2014, 16:41