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NSA Collects 200 Million Text Messages Per Day 287

Posted by timothy
from the hey-why-do-you-hate-america? dept.
ilikenwf writes "A new release from the files obtained by Edward Snowden have revealed that the NSA collects millions of text messages per day. These are used to gain travel plans, financial data, and social network data. The majority of these texts and data belong to people who are not being investigated for any crime or association. Supposedly, "non-US" data is removed, but we all know that means it is sent to a partner country for analysis, which is then sent back to the NSA."
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NSA Collects 200 Million Text Messages Per Day

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  • Pitchforks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Torches, hangmans nooses....these are a few of my favorite things.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by WillAffleckUW (858324)

      Agreed. Time to insist on our Constitutional Rights.

      And some guillotines.

      • Re:Pitchforks (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @05:16PM (#45979743) Homepage

        I'll bet $100 that you don't do shit about it.

    • there are fishing expeditions by subpoena. by break-and-enter. by throwing dynamite overboard.

      freakin' NSA is tossing nukes to try and find one bluegill in the ocean.

      there oughta be a law...

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Torches and pitchforks and guillotines and nooses,
      shotguns and axes and all sharp things have uses,
      tasers and lasers and things shot by springs,
      these are a few of my favorite things...

    • by kheldan (1460303)
      Does the NSA collect multimedia SMS messages as well as straight text? If so let's start a goatse-sending campaign.
  • "Sure." "Okay." "lolz." "Whats for dinner?" "No." "K." "don't be a dick"
  • by netsavior (627338) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @03:49PM (#45978869)
    That doesn't seem like much, I think the average teen sends 200m text messages per day.
    • by JLennox (942693) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @03:50PM (#45978885)

      lol kk

  • CIA has grown into a monster, so I'm gonna disband it. Then Kennedy is assassinated and nothing happens to the CIA.

    2014: Obama says NSA has grown into a monster, it needs to be disbanded. Then Obama is assassinated and nothing happens to NSA.

    • Re:1963: JFK says (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 16, 2014 @03:58PM (#45978953)

      Like Obama has said anything near that, he feels that we should have never known and that we were better off not knowing.

      • by geekmux (1040042)

        Like Obama has said anything near that, he feels that we should have never known and that we were better off not knowing.

        Are you kidding? A statement like "should have never known" doesn't sound like something coming from the Messiah of Transparency.

        Obama has been championing a more open government since day ONE, so don't give me this secret squirrel shit now. And no, I'm not surprised if he's completely reversed his stance. He's a politician. Why would you expect anything different.

    • CIA has grown into a monster, so I'm gonna disband it. Then Kennedy is assassinated and nothing happens to the CIA.

      2014: Obama says NSA has grown into a monster, it needs to be disbanded. Then Obama is assassinated and nothing happens to NSA.

      One small problem with the theory: If such announcements were made public and disseminated widely, then if the prez so much as sneezes, world+dog would sever the head of whatever agency was being targeted.

    • by gmuslera (3436)
      Obama case will be a bit different. In October 2008 he was willing to protect whisteblowers. Seems that since he come to power the discourse varied to be a bit friendlier with the NSA/CIA/etc. So, won't say that NSA has grown into a monster, because the monster already ate him.
    • Obama doesn't have a fraction of the courage of JFK. None of them do, except Carter and Bush Sr. and perhaps Nixon.

      They've tapped Obama since before he was a Senator. Think about that fact for a minute. JFK probably didn't care that much if his wife found out about him fooling around (because she basically knew it already) so the fact the FBI knew of all the women maybe only deterred him from firing Hoover... who was using the FBI to do what the NSA does now but limited to political figures... and maybe a

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Obama doesn't have a fraction of the courage of JFK. None of them do, except Carter and Bush Sr. and perhaps Nixon.

        Reagan. The way he reacted when he was shot showed that he had, at least as much physical courage as JFK. And, like it or not, his Strategic Defense Initiative (AKA "Starwars") wasn't the type of policy that a timid president would ever have dared.
      • Re:1963: JFK says (Score:5, Insightful)

        by HeckRuler (1369601) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @07:28PM (#45980867)

        maybe only deterred him from firing Hoover... who was using the FBI to do what the NSA does now but limited to political figures... and maybe a few communists

        And Martin Luther King Jr., the NAACP, journalists/athletes critical of the Vietnam war, the black panthers, individual students not even associated with groups, Albert Einstein, the KKK, etc (that list is actually really blood huge).

        Hoover's FBI engaged in political smear campaigns, giving false report the the media, harassment, wrongful imprisonment, oh, and an assassination.
        Seriously, learn some history.

        Now, I don't think that the NSA is currently up to the sort of abuse that Hoover was involved in. Lying to the media, lying to congress, spying on their girlfriends, illegal domestic dragnets, internationally illegal espionage? They've been caught red handed. And no-one is in jail yet. Or even charged. That's a pretty serious breakdown of the rule of law.

        But hey, it's not as bad as Hoover's FBI. Yet. That we know of.

  • by kaptink (699820) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @03:52PM (#45978901) Homepage

    Supposedly, "non-US" data is removed

    No, you have that round the wrong way -

    "Communications from US phone numbers, the documents suggest, were removed (or “minimized”) from the database – but those of other countries, including the UK, were retained."

    • by Rockoon (1252108)
      Its you that has it the wrong way. They "remove" the "non-US" data and then send what remains to other countries for analysis. No point sending the non-US data to other countries...
      • by Mashdar (876825)
        Reading comprehension fail. Re-read TFS. GP was correct in saying TFS was backwards.
    • Incorrect. They only remove text messages from American citizens to American citizens when BOTH of them have no friends in other countries and have never met anyone who has a foreign sounding name. Like Smythe. Or Gonzalez. Or Romney. Or Colbert. Those are suspicious.

      • by cdrudge (68377)

        Just state it the way that we all know how it is. They don't remove anything.

        • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @04:56PM (#45979565)

          Just state it the way that we all know how it is. They don't remove anything.

          Yes they do. It is just that in NSA lingo "collect" means "analyze". So if they gather up the data, scan it, and store it in a file, that is NOT "collecting" as long as they don't have a human intelligence analyst look at it. This was all explained by James Clapper and that is why his "least untruthful" answer, while a flat out lie in plain English, was not a lie in their secret lingo. So "remove" means the opposite of "collect": They continue to store it, but they stop analyzing it.

          • It's the old Slick Willie mind trick --This isn't the "collect" you've been looking for. Move along.

    • Maybe it's a game. They're exploring all the ways that the Republicrats are trying to characterize the NSA spying as legal and justifiable, and getting rid of them, to see how stupid they can make politicians sound.

      If it's only 49% likely US citizens are having their 4th amendment rights violated (and then 49% gets rounded down to 0: legal) then let's try for 100%, and see if that also gets rounded down to legal.

  • 143, 2DAY, 4EAE, ADN, AFAIK, AFK, ATM, B/C, B4, BFF, BFN, BOL, BRB, BTW, DM, Bieber, DWBH, F2F, FB, 420, MM, MSM, IRL, Bieber,...
  • Releases (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AnotherAnonymousUser (972204) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @03:54PM (#45978915)
    I'm curious - I'm following the releases, but was curious where and how the releases are occurring - did Snowden release huge archives to the web and they're slowly being sifted and sorted through by interested parties, or are these being slowly released by people holding what Snowden released?
    • Re:Releases (Score:5, Informative)

      by pyrrho (167252) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @04:04PM (#45979031) Journal

      Greenwald and his collaborators (at various papers around the world) have been releasing it slowly. There is some controversy about this... clearly Greenwald is ordering the information in such a way as to maximize and extend the impact. Personally I approve.

      • Re:Releases (Score:5, Insightful)

        by duranaki (776224) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @04:31PM (#45979321)
        Me too. It seems to work like this: Release A. Wait for government to say, "Okay. Sure. We did A. But that's it." Then, release B. "Okay. Sure. We did A and B. But that's it." It really makes the government look bad to have to revise its denials all the time. Plus, the slow release helps fight the "Look! Shiny!" defense. If you released everything at once, they could then distract us with a couple scandals and the media would never go back to this issue.
      • I absolutely love what this Snowden and Greenwald are doing. It's got to be driving the PR agents crazy as they try NOT to be honest and mitigate and massage the message. Every new revelation must be put in context so that the American people accept it, or at least think it's no big deal, and even that -- if it is a big deal, no harm intended.

        So then the next release shows; "Yeah, that thing about meta data only -- big lie." That thing about only foreign -- big lie. That thing about Snowden harmed security

    • Re:Releases (Score:5, Informative)

      by jessetaylor84 (3497397) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @04:10PM (#45979097) Homepage Journal
      Snowden specifically requested that the documents be released slowly, and only after careful analysis, rather than all at once. This is not to protect the police state, but for Snowden's own personal safety. Greenwald and other journalists are respecting the wishes of their source, and not throwing Snowden under the bus after he trusted them. You can read a bit about the reasoning behind their release method here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/06/25/greenwald-snowden-s-files-are-out-there-if-anything-happens-to-him.html [thedailybeast.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Dear NSA,

    Here is another text message for your collection!
    Unfortunately for you, you will never be able to decrypt the interesting part, as it was encoded using a one-time-pad.

    Hugs and Kisses.


    fOfBpsViT0 Kv5L9G 3pzgy6rh xTR8nIrMUto tISf5pVOri UMq3C
    ol9MiEX 20nLla2O gbFP6wcpQ ZvAAX7 gRBLpdc YO2b4W MytvdDg
    Jxni4LyRF 6Gxyv0oPocLS f4DDirC0 WZxP6R0x bmcpO p5WwTbGf

  • Averaged across my family, we send about 10 SMS/day each. So the total US would send around 3 BILLION per day, and the rest-of-the-world using customary multipliers 6+ BILLION.

    Either the NSA has 2% filters (scary) or is incompetent. Or [likely] both!

    • Or they are able to filter out useless chatter from teenagers who account for 98% of the SMS traffic.

    • by 228e2 (934443)
      . . . or your family doesnt represent the average SMS's sent a day?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gewalker (57809)

      US message volume was 2.19 trillion times in 2012 (a 5% decline from 2011) this is equivalent to 6 billion each day. article [marketingcharts.com]

  • Non-story here (Score:5, Informative)

    by Trachman (3499895) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @04:07PM (#45979073)
    Don't want to rain on the festival, but text messages is only one sub-set of the data that is being spied on. Here is the partial list, as presented by http://nsa.gov1.info/data/index.html [gov1.info] internet searches (Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu) websites visited (all anti-government websites and your xxx-rated websites becomes a permanent record) emails sent and received social media activity (Facebook, Twitter, World of Warcraft, Snapchat etc) blogging activity including posts read, written, and commented on videos watched and/or uploaded online photos viewed and/or uploaded online music downloads mobile phone GPS-location data mobile phone apps downloaded phone call records text messages sent and received online purchases and auction transactions bookstore receipts credit card/ debit card transactions bank statements cable television shows watched and recorded commuter toll records parking receipts electronic bus and subway passes / Smartpasses travel itineraries border crossings surveillance cameras medical information including diagnoses and treatments prescription drug purchases guns and ammunition sales educational records arrest records driver license information Of course, this information together with targeted SIGINT is put together and is being analyzed to identify any risks, as decided by policy makers. So, Text messages is only a small piece of SIGINT
    • by EmagGeek (574360)

      Only end-to-end with other TS users, unfortunately.

      CM11 incorporates TS and makes it transparent to the user, which is nice, so everyone using CM11 gets end-to-end with every other CM11 user.

  • Hmm. (Score:4, Funny)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @04:19PM (#45979197)

    Headline: NSA Collects 200 Million Text Messages Per Day

    Translation: They're tracking about 5 teenagers.

  • by shadowrat (1069614) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @04:25PM (#45979241)
    the NSA is recording everything we all do. now let me know when there's a news story about what we can do about it.
    • the NSA is recording everything we all do. now let me know when there's a news story about what we can do about it.

      Any privacy document or contract we sign has a couple of provisions for 1) Law Enforcement and 2) Medical reasons. Understand that this is monitoring without warrant, so anything obtained via this method would (theoretically) be inadmissable in court... Bill of Rights blah blah blah. However if someone were to text a serious threat to many lives, wouldn't it be in societies best interests to apprehend the individual before they do something?

      If we did away with all government surveillance tomorrow, what woul

      • by cfulton (543949)
        Really? Really? You don't see any danger in all this. From the 20's until the early 70's J Edgar used his organization to collect information about citizens of the United States. He used that information to blackmail and criminalize people whom he did not agree with or had personal issues with. That really happened. Now assume that the directory of the NSA starts to have a personal agenda like of J Edgar. Maybe he doesn't like Jews or Atheists. He starts to get his minions to use all this data to fig
  • Over 150 million of them contain phrases like:
    "OMG, yur my BFF!"

  • I thought the NSA was covering their ass by saying they're not spying on american citizens, only foreign threats, now they're saying they _only_ spy on US communications? which is it?

  • I was going to suggest it would soon be easier to list what online communications they don't collect, but I think we passed that point a while ago.

    Is there any online privacy they show signs of respecting?

    Do they see any reason not to do what they're doing? I mean, the Fourth Amendment didn't seem like much of a road block.

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @04:31PM (#45979315)

    The polls are still in favor of expanding government surveillance to protect us all from "turr." Pisses me off to no end, but that's the democracy we're asking for. I gave up after I saw the numbers last year post-Snowden.

  • So much for "We only collect Meta Data"
    Liars
  • by ameyer17 (935373) <slashdot@ameyer17.com> on Thursday January 16, 2014 @05:11PM (#45979693) Homepage

    I'm not proud to be an American
    Cause I know that I'm not free
    I pity all the men who died
    So Bush and Obama could take my rights from me
    Now let me stand up next to you
    And defeat them still today
    Cause there ain't no doubt they hate this land
    Bush and Obama hate the USA...

    Seriously, everyone responsible for the excesses of the National Sodomization of America should be extraordinarily rendered then executed without trial for treason.

  • Has there been a revelation that the NSA sends US data overseas to avoid the rules? I don't remember that revelation coming out, although I wouldn't put it past them.

    • Has there been a revelation that the NSA sends US data overseas to avoid the rules? I don't remember that revelation coming out, although I wouldn't put it past them.

      While not on NSA this is what rovio.com does with the info they collect, it's in their ToS. Angry Birds being just one of their products. -note: I have them blocked at the router level and haven't read the ToS in over a year, they might of taken it out but it's what they do Their ToS also made me aware of Flurry.com (also blocked at the router level).

    • by hguorbray (967940)
      that's been going on since the 70s

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECHELON

      Using shared SIGINT The UK gets the US to spy on it's people to circumvent UK privacy laws The US gets the UK to spy on it's people to circumvent US privacy laws, etc Canada, Australia and New Zealand are all involved in this arrangement known as the FiveEyes

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UKUSA_Agreement#Controversy

      -I'm just sayin'
  • It was a common knowledge in the 80's that every Usenet/newsgroup went through NSA, whether it was read (flagged) depended upon key words. This included FidoNet and any other means of messaging.

    There was a list that circulated with THE WORDS that would flag a message, they were few at the time and I only remember one, "nuclear". I live in the USA.

    It's not a large leap to imagine text messages going through or collected via the Internet (storage) to be pulled in as well.

    It taught me early that any post I ma

  • by Master Moose (1243274) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @07:07PM (#45980719) Homepage

    Dat mst b y so mny txts r snt n code 2 stp da spyng

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