The National Security Agency (NSA) vacuumed up nearly 200 million text messages around the world, according to a new report in the Guardian. The program, Dishfire, used the text messages to dig further into personal details, such as travel plans, location, credit card information and the individual’s contact list.
The most damning bits of the report, though, say the government collected “pretty much everything it can,” including phone metadata from the “untargeted and unwarranted.” In other words, from an average person who isn’t suspected of doing anything wrong.
The Guardian’s report, compiled in coordination with UK’s Channel 4, is based on 2011 American and British government documents supplied by American ex-contractor Edward Snowden who has fled to Russia. An NSA spokeswoman denied the implication that the U.S. intelligence agency was randomly sucking up the public’s SMS data. “As we have previously stated, the implication that NSA’s collection is arbitrary and unconstrained is false,” she told the Guardian.
The latest revelations arrive just hours before President Obama gets ready to deliver remarks in which he is expected to call for new limits on the NSA’s data collection schemes.