The NSA intercepted 200 million text messages from all over the world every day, in order to obtain information such as location, contacts and credit card details of individuals. Intercepting the huge amount of messages in project ‘Dishfire’ would be untargeted, claims The Guardian.
Documents received by the Guardian from whistleblower Snowden say the NSA is collecting “just about everything it can” from the Dishfire program. One of the presentations from the documents is entitled ‘Text text messaging: a gold mine to draw from’.
The presentation states that in April 2011, an average of 194 million text messages were intercepted. It is unknown whether the interception continues and, if so, whether it is of the same magnitude. As part of the ‘Prefer’ project, the messages stored in a database were automatically analyzed, extracting information such as travel plans, contacts, financial transactions and other data from individuals, many of which were not suspects or under investigation. That writes The Guardian, which has collaborated for the news with the British channel Channel 4.
The NSA cites as the reason for the massive interception the getting hold of metadata such as msisdn or mobile phone numbers, the unique imsi numbers of mobile users and the imei numbers of devices, but the collection of metacontent based on the content called. Information about US SMS users would be removed as much as possible, but not that of other countries.
The British spy service GCHQ was also allowed to browse the metadata, according to documents. The content was not viewed, but who texted whom when, for example. The service mentions the advantage that ‘information can be examined from months or even years before a target became interesting’.
Earlier it was announced that the NSA intercepts location data via mobile apps and obtains almost 5 billion records every day that can be used to track the location of smartphones worldwide.