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Documents Reveal NSA Program Codenamed ‘DISHFIRE’ Collects up to 200 Million Text Messages Per Day

Published on January 17, 2014 · Filed Under Uncategorized 

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by Robert Ottone

(Long Island, NY) Another day, another story about how the NSA is doing something terrifyingly shady. The latest nightmare coming out of DC indicates that the NSA intercepts millions of text messages every day, according to a recent Guardian story.

A screenshot of the 43 minute, 26 second speech this morning, in which President Obama announced a new surveillance-policy directive and transition away from bulk metadata collection. Full video from YouTube is below.

By utilizing a program codenamed “Dishfire,” the NSA nets all kinds of data, including text messages, travel plans, credit card transactions and contacts. The Guardian obtained this information through a joint investigation with the United Kingdom’s Channel 4, using information provided by whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

According to the Guardian piece, the NSA has been able to collect:

  • Missed call alerts totaling more than five million, all for the purpose of monitoring an individual’s social network and contacts.
  • Information surrounding 1.6 million border crossings as a way to monitor individuals’ travel patterns.
  • Over 100,000 names from electronic business cards.
  • Nearly a million payment and credit card transactions. This includes transactions via online entities like PayPal and peer to peer payment options.

Perhaps most alarming is the geographical information provided to the NSA via text messages. While our phones are all connected to the internet and providing Geo-mapping positional information every second they’re powered up, the idea that the government can triangulate one’s position based on a text message is Orwellian at best. Or for those who don’t read, like something out of the Will Smith movie Enemy of The State.

Reuters reached out to the NSA regarding the Guardian article, but was met with a categorical denial: “As we have previously stated, the implication that NSA’s collection is arbitrary and unconstrained is false. Because some SMS data of U.S. persons may at times be incidentally collected in NSA’s lawful foreign intelligence mission, privacy protections for U.S. persons exist across the entire process concerning the use, handling, retention, and dissemination of SMS data in DISHFIRE.”

President Barack Obama announced a slew of NSA reforms, however; it is unclear if these reforms are a smokescreen. He did indicate that foreign leaders would be able to avoid the eye of the NSA. Below is Obama’s speech, from Friday morning, in which he announced a new surveillance-policy directive and transition away from bulk metadata collection.

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