The Latest bombshell from NSA leaker Edward Snowden should worry anyone who uses a cellphone, but it specifically concerns cellphone users outside of the United States and US citizens travelling abroad. Snowden released documents that show that the NSA is tracking cellphone locations the world over. The agency is also tracking domestic phones which means this targets U.S. citizens too!
The NSA is gathering nearly 5 Billion records daily on the locations of cellphones all over the globe, according to the documents leaked by Snowden. The Washington Post broke the story, pointing out the implications of Snowden’s latest revelation:
In scale, scope and potential impact on privacy, the efforts to collect and analyze location data may be unsurpassed among the NSA surveillance programs that have been disclosed since June. Analysts can find cellphones anywhere in the world, retrace their movements and expose hidden relationships among individuals using them.
Of course, the NSA was quick to claim its surveillance is lawful, and meant to find foreign threats to US security. It claims the surveillance program is necessary to combat terrorism against the United States. Any surveillance of US citizens abroad is “incidental”.
U.S. officials said the programs that collect and analyze location data are lawful and intended strictly to develop intelligence about foreign targets.
Robert Litt, general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA, said “there is no element of the intelligence community that under any authority is intentionally collecting bulk cellphone location information about cellphones in the United States.”
The NSA has no reason to suspect that the movements of the overwhelming majority of cellphone users would be relevant to national security. Rather, it collects locations in bulk because its most powerful analytic tools — known collectively as CO-TRAVELER — allow it to look for unknown associates of known intelligence targets by tracking people whose movements intersect.
This is only the latest NSA document to break from Snowden. We’re sure there’s more to come. Sound off in the comments!
[Via: Washington Post]