It is quite amusing that, the National Security Agency (NSA) is reportedly collecting almost 5 billion cell phone records per day under a program which monitors and analyses highly personal data about the defined whereabouts of individuals, wherever they travel allover the world.
The details of the huge database of location-tracking & GPS information, and the used strategies in which the NSA uses the information to establish relationships between people, have been released by the Washington Post, which has already cited documents supplied by whistleblower Mr. Edward Snowden and concerned intelligence officials.
A renowned spy agency is said to be tracking the movements of “millions of devices” in what amounts to a staggeringly powerful observation tool. It means that the NSA, through mobile phones, track people anywhere they travel allover the world– including into private homes – or retracing previously traveled tours.
They have mentioned that, the data can also be used for study patterns of behavior to get personal information and relationships between different users.
The NSA provided some input data in a report, with a senior collection manager, who granted permission to speak to the newspaper, admitting the agency that “getting enormous volumes” of location data from around the planet by tapping phones, cables and other devices/ network that connect mobile networks globally.
Civil liberties experts of US have said that those cell phone location data contains some of the most intrusive information about people in digital age, leaving a kaleidoscopic footprint of a person’s life and regular works. Cellphones transmits location data whenever a phone is switched on, irrespective of whether they are operating to make calls or send text messages and emails.
As it was published in the post, the NSA is applying classy and modernized mathematical techniques to map cell phone owners’ activities, relationships, overlapping their patterns of movement with thousands or millions of other users who cross their paths.
NSA used tools — known collectively as “Co-Traveler” — enables to search for possible associates of aptitude targets.
As per the briefing slides seen in the report, NSA draws location data from 10 so-called “sigads,” or signals surveillance activity designators, allover the world, which in turn relies on data provided by the corporate partners.
Defending this program, US Armed officials told the Post that efforts for gathering and analyze location data are official and intended strictly to develop intelligence about foreign personnel, with information about the location of internal cell phones only gathered “incidentally”.
Mr. Robert Litt, general counsel from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told: “There is no materials of intelligence community that under any authority is intentionally collecting bulk cell phone location information about cell phones in the United States.”
However, information is also gathered from the tens of millions of Americans who travel abroad with their cell phones per year, the Post reported.
“As with other sort of monitoring activities, the NSA claims that its cell phone location program program is targeted at foreigners, and Americans’ information is collected only ‘incidentally,’” said Elizabeth Goitein, the co-director of the BrennanCenter’s Liberty and National Security Program.
“But the scale of foreign surveillance has become so huge; the amount of information about Americans ‘incidentally’ captured may itself be approaching mass surveillance levels.”
Two months ago, director of NSA, General Keith Alexander, admitted to secret monitoring programs to observe the precise location of Americans through their cell phones, saying the highly intrusive tracking data “may be something that is a future requirement for the country”.
He said that in evidence to the Senate Judiciary Committee that pilot programs from 2010 and 2011 were intended to test the compatibility of the location data with the agency’s databases, but were not used for any sort of intelligence analysis purposes.
It is also not known that whether or to what extent internal spy agencies has dragnet collection programs for mobile phone data, although the FBI does obtain such information through warrants in illegal investigations.
The latest announcement comes at a point during which Congress is considering three separate bills that would to varying clips the wings of the NSA or reform the secret courts that intended to hold the agency to be responsible.
None of the proposed personnel reforms substantially alter the NSA’s ability to look over ordinary foreigners living outside from the USA. The issue of monitoring of foreigners have mostly been low among the priorities of lawmakers, including those significant of the NSA, although there has been considerable issues raised about the agency monitoring the calls of world leaders of allied nations.
Zeke Johnson, director of Amnesty International, USA’s Security & Human Rights Program, told that the latest revelations emphasized the need for Congress to take `blow to the right to privacy,” he told. “Congress should wake-up from its post-holiday food coma and get to work passing legislation to reform the program.”
Catherine Crump, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s speech, Privacy and Technology project, had said: “It is staggering that a location-tracking program on this scale could be implemented without any public discussion, particularly given the considerable number of Americans having their movements recorded by the government.”
But it was hilariously noticed that the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.