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


Credit: Laura Poitras / Praxis Films/wikimedia

The 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 Reason.com on the NSA here