gathers data on cellphone locations globally: report
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[December 05, 2013]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The National
Security Agency gathers nearly 5 billion records a day on the location
of mobile telephones worldwide, including those of some Americans, the
Washington Post reported on Wednesday, citing sources including
documents obtained by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The records feed a database that stores information about the
locations of "at least hundreds of millions of devices," the
newspaper said, according to the top-secret documents and interviews
with intelligence officials.
The report said the NSA does not target Americans' location data
intentionally, but acquires a substantial amount of information on
the whereabouts of domestic cellular telephones "incidentally."
One manager told the newspaper the NSA obtained "vast volumes" of
location data by tapping into the cables that connect mobile
networks globally and that serve U.S. cellphones as well as foreign
U.S. intelligence officials contacted by Reuters declined to comment
on the Post report.
The article cited officials as saying the programs that collect and
analyze location data are lawful and meant solely to develop
intelligence on foreign targets.
U.S. intelligence agencies'
extensive collection of telephone and Internet data has been subject
to scrutiny since Snowden began leaking information in June showing
that surveillance was far more extensive than most Americans had
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Facing a public outcry and concern that programs are targeting
average Americans as well as international terrorism suspects,
Republican and Democratic members of Congress are writing
legislation to clamp down on the data collection and increase public
access to information about it.
Advocates responded to the Post report by calling on Congress to
take up legislation to reform NSA data-gathering programs.
"How many revelations of NSA surveillance will it take for Congress
to act? Today's news is the latest startling blow to the right to
privacy," Zeke Johnson, director of Amnesty International USA's
Security and Human Rights, said in a statement.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Mark Hosenball)