The National Security Agency has collected almost 200 million text messages a day from across the globe, using them to extract data including location, contact networks and credit card details, according to top-secret documents.
The untargeted collection and storage of SMS messages – including their contacts – is revealed in a joint investigation between the Guardian and the UK’s Channel 4 News based on material provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The documents also reveal the UK spy agency GCHQ has made use of the NSA database to search the metadata of “untargeted and unwarranted” communications belonging to people in the UK.
Codenamed "Dishfire," the program collects "pretty much everything it can," according to the GCHGQ documents that the British paper has in its posession. The NSA has made, in the words of the paper, "extensive use" of the text message dabatabse to extract info on everything from people's travel plans to financial transactions—including of individuals not suspected of any illegal activity.
According to the report, in an average day the NSA is able to extract: More than 5 million missed-call alerts; details of 1.6 million border crossings a day; more than 110,000 names from electronic business cardsl and more than 800,000 financial transactions. Go check out the full report here.