America’s shadowy National Security Agency has come under fire yet again, this time over allegations suggesting it routinely indulged in ‘untargeted’ global sweeps of text message communications.
According to the Guardian and Channel 4 News this work saw agents routinely extract location, contact and financial information from 200m such messages a day to populate a database of metadata which was used by GCHQ to track UK numbers.
Codenamed Dishfire the project collected data on ‘pretty much everything’ according to classified documents with a scope that far exceeded specific intelligence targets.
This haul is believed to have included an average of 5m missed call alerts, 1.6m border crossings, 110,000 names and 800,000 financial transactions every day.
Responding to the Guardian an NSA spokesperson said that the implication that its data collection was “arbitrary and unconstrained is false”, adding that its capabilities were exclusively directed against “valid foreign intelligence targets” only and were subject to legal safeguards.