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he National Security Agency is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world, according to top-secret documents and interviews with U.S. intelligence officials, enabling the agency to track the movements of individuals — and map their relationships — in ways that would have been previously unimaginable.
The records feed a vast database that stores information about the locations of at least hundreds of millions of devices, according to the officials and the documents, which were provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. New projects created to analyze that data have provided the intelligence community with what amounts to a mass surveillance tool.
A central feature of each of these tools is that they do not rely on knowing a particular target in advance, or even suspecting one. They operate on the full universe of data in the NSA’s FASCIA repository, which stores trillions of metadata records, of which a large but unknown fraction include locations.
The most basic analytic tools map the date, time, and location of cellphones to look for patterns or significant moments of overlap. Other tools compute speed and trajectory for large numbers of mobile devices, overlaying the electronic data on transportation maps to compute the likely travel time and determine which devices might have intersected.
To solve the problem of undetectable surveillance against CIA officers stationed overseas, one contractor designed an analytic model that would carefully record the case officer’s path and look for other mobile devices in steady proximity.
reply to post by rickm
AS soon as Putin is done reading them we can have them back...
In an interview with The New York Times, Snowden said he handed over all the documents he had obtained to journalists during his stay in Hong Kong. The newspaper posted its story on its website Thursday.
Snowden said he did not retain copies of the documents and did not take them to Russia "because it wouldn't serve the public interest," the Times reported. He said his familiarity with China's intelligence abilities allowed him to protect the documents from Chinese spies while he was in Hong Kong.
"There's a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any documents," he said.
Snowden's leaks of highly classified material have resulted in numerous news stories about U.S. surveillance activities at home and abroad and sparked debate about the legality of those activities and the privacy implications for average Americans.