Another NSA scandal is spreading, as some new revelations show that the NSA can keep track of millions of people around the world, by locating their mobile phone. A real Big Brother and omniscient super- power…
Since June 2013, when the first revelations were made by the former NSA consultant Edward Snowden, who is now in exile in Russia, the power abuse of the NSA seem really endless. Imagine that only 1% of secret documents provided by Snowden to the press have yet been published, according to an editor of the British newspaper The Guardian.
On December 4th, The Washington Post revealed that the security agency intercepted geolocation data of hundreds of millions of mobile phones worldwide. The NSA stores information about “at least hundreds of millions of mobile devices” and recorded “nearly 5 billion” of location data per day.
” We get large volumes” of geolocation data worldwide, confirmed a senior manager in charge of collecting these data who was quoted by the Washington Post.
The security agency is therefore able to track mobile phones by connecting the cables that connect the various mobile networks in the world, including the United States and , consequently collection ” incidentally ” location data of U.S. citizens.
Also according to the Post, at least two companies, whose name was not mentioned, work on this with the intelligence agency. The localization of phone data belonging to U.S. citizens traveling abroad is then also captured.
The NSA did not want to comment on this program called CO- TRAVELER. The aim of such monitoring, which is done through the continuous dialogue between a phone and the nearest cell tower and powerful mathematical algorithms, is to “track the movement and highlight the hidden relationships between people “.
Some associations which aim at defending individuals’ freedom commented that these revelations are really scary. «The paths we take every day can reveal a lot about our political, professional and intimate relationships. This large-scale monitoring of hundreds of millions of mobile phones violates our international obligations to respect the privacy of foreign and American people,” said Catherine Crump, a lawyer at the ACLU, the powerful civilian freedom association.
The volume of data recorded and stored by the NSA reach 27 terabytes, twice the volume of the entire contents of the U.S. Library of the world’s largest Congress.
The volume of information collected is such that it would “bypass our capacity to digest, process and store them”, says the Washington Post, quoting an internal NSA document dated back from 2012. “The ability of the NSA to geotag is just breathtaking (…) and shows that the agency is able to make the most effort to have secure communications futile.” One of the few ways to protect oneself is not to have a phone or to turn it off.
Following revelations of Edward Snowden, senators from both parties have started working on a bill, the USA Freedom Act , to introduce more strict limits for the NSA. But it focuses on metadata phone monitoring and does not refer to geolocalization of mobile phones.
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