Latest Snowden Revelation: NSA Gathers Billions of Records on Cellphone Locations Worldwide Every Day

Credit: Laura Poitras / Praxis Films/wikimediaCredit: Laura Poitras / Praxis Films/wikimediaThe Washington Post published a report this afternoon based on information leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealing that the NSA tracks the locations of “at least hundreds of millions of devices” around the world, enabling the agency “to track the movements of individuals — and map their relationships — in ways that would have been previously unimaginable.”

From The Washington Post:

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.

The NSA does not target Americans’ location data by design, but the agency acquires a substantial amount of information on the whereabouts of domestic cellphones “incidentally,” a legal term that connotes a foreseeable but not deliberate result.

One senior collection manager, speaking on condition of anonymity but with permission from the NSA, said “we are getting vast volumes” of location data from around the world by tapping into the cables that connect mobile networks globally and that serve U.S. cellphones as well as foreign ones. Additionally, data is often collected from the tens of millions of Americans who travel abroad with their cellphones every year.

The news coming only a day after the editor of The Guardian said that the London-based newspaper has only published 1 percent of the files leaked by Snowden.

More from on the NSA here

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Drip. Drip. Drip.

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    Can we please find a different stock picture of Snowden? Is the unshaved interview screengrab literally the only known photograph of the man?

  • ||

    I guess you didn't see the sexed-up shots that were going around when the story first broke. I think we should stick with this one.

  • ||

    The thing is, this is completely unsurprising. Of course they're doing this. It's just a natural extension of what they are doing within the country. I want something juicier, something that embarrasses the shit out of the NSA and the administration again. And then again. And then again. Over and over and over.

  • ||

    This would imply that they have the moral capacity to be embarrassed.

  • Invisible Finger||

    So the Post is calling them "Snowden Documents" as if he wrote them, rather than copies of official NSA documents which is what they are.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    If you're not doing anything wrong, it shouldn't be very difficult to prove your innocence.

    Stop worrying.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Another revelation that national spy agencies spy.


    "Another revelation that national spy agencies are filled with incorrigible criminals."


  • The Late P Brooks||

    Don't forget; SNOWDEN is the traitor.

  • RishJoMo||

    Jack Mo Mo is not going to liek that at all dude.

  • IceTrey||

    Thinking of the proles who carry out his work makes my skin crawl. Where do they find these people? I wonder if the office uniform is a brown shirt.


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.