The National Security Agency vacuumed up nearly 200 million phone text messages from around the world every day and used the data to extract information about individuals who were not suspected of illegal activity, according to a new report.
The Guardian report on the latest documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden detail a program known as “Dishfire,” in which the NSA collected and analyzed massive amounts of information drawn from text messages. In April of 2011, according to one NSA internal presentation titled “SMS Text Messages: A Goldmine to Exploit,” the agency gathered up, on average, 194 million messages a day, the Guardian reports. Much of the information, like location, financial information, and contact networks, was drawn from automated text messages like roaming alerts, text-to-text payments and missed call alerts.
According to the Guardian, communications originating from U.S. phone numbers were removed from the database, while those from international numbers were retained.