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NSA accused of harvesting data from 200 million SMS messages a day

updated 08:42 pm EST, Thu January 16, 2014

New program gathers data for trend analysis, profiling of selectees

The revelations of the NSA surveillance first broken by Edward Snowden continue. The NSA is accused of building the "Dishfire" surveillance network, which targets 200 million text messages per day for collection and analysis. Information collected by the program allegedly includes names, phone numbers, and images.

The United States generates six billion texts per day, according to a 2012 survey. The 200 million per day is an appreciable fraction, but not nearly all. An NSA spokesperson reiterated to UK newspaper The Guardian that "the implication that NSA's collection is arbitrary and unconstrained is false." The NSA added that "privacy protections for US persons exist across the entire process concerning the use, handling, retention, and dissemination of SMS data in Dishfire."

From the program, The Guardian reports that the agency was able to collect more than five million missed-call alerts, specifics of 1.6 million border crossings a day from network roaming messages, 110,000 names from electronic business card transmissions, geolocation details on "persons of interest," and details on over 800,000 financial transactions.

by MacNN Staff




  1. cashxx

    Junior Member

    Joined: 04-13-09

    Thats why you have an iPhone and use messages. They better not have access to that data!!

  1. The Vicar

    Junior Member

    Joined: 07-01-09


    Whether or not the NSA has access to Messages is not actually confirmed; so far, at least, it seems like Apple is the only big tech company which didn't actively assist the NSA, but that doesn't mean the NSA couldn't have broken the protocol by themselves. It has been pointed out that Apple -- if it turns out the NSA has a backdoor into Apple, or had their help after all -- could be capturing the data themselves, but there is no evidence that they actually are. A more likely scenario, given that the NSA would certainly not rest while there was a protocol they couldn't spy on, is simply that the NSA has been capturing the messages to decode by brute force at leisure.

  1. nowwhatareyoulookingat

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 07-13-09

    "privacy protections for US persons exist across the entire process concerning the use, handling, retention, and dissemination of SMS data in Dishfire."

    Note the switch from "we don't collect information on American's when they are within the US and communicating with other American's" to "we have privacy 'protection' for Americans, and no, we can't tell you what it is, but it's great, very protective. Yes. Very protective."

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 01-25-07

    "privacy protections for US persons exist across the entire process..." until it doesn't. Who's going to tell us if it doesn't exist? Yeah. A leaker, who will be vilified and pursued around the globe...

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