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Report Says The NSA Gathers Data On Cellphone Locations Globally

posted 5 Dec 2013, 16:08 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 5 Dec 2013, 16:09 ]

The United States National Security Agency has been accused of gathering the locations of billions of cell phone users all over the world, on a daily basis.

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (DECEMBER 05, 2013) (REUTERS) -  The National Security Agency gathers nearly five billion records a day on the location of mobile telephones worldwide, including those of some Americans, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday (December 04), 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 ones.

Patrick Toomey of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says the NSA has avoided documenting the number of Americans swept up in the program.

"When bulk collection inevitably encompasses such a substantial number of Americans locations, it's hard to call it, at a systematic level, inadvertent or incidental," said Toomey.

Reuters spoke with Americans on the street and discovered mixed reactions. Hiram (pr. Hy-rim) Gonzalez says he wants his freedom and he believes the U.S. is a police state, taking advantage of Americans' civil liberties. He added that Americans must speak out against the NSA.

"It's an invasion of privacy. That's what our constitution is all about. This country was built on that; trust and, you know, you have your own privacy. I'm totally against it."

Ross Buckolz from ClevelandOhio was neutral about the issue, saying, "I see the invasion of privacy factor, but then also I see the security issue too. So, I'm just kind of perplexed about it, but I see the good and the bad."

An unnamed New Yorker said that she was upset about what she said was an "invasion" of privacy.

"The people of the United States should be standing up because no-one can do anything until the people of the United States, and the press, by the way, stands up and stands up for the truth and for individual liberties."

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 realized.

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.

Toomey said the intelligence community is not collecting cell phone location information inside the Untied States.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the NSA was not "deliberately" gathering bulk cell phone locations.

"No element of the intelligence community is intentionally collecting bulk cell phone location information about cell phones in the United States. When conducting its overseas foreign intelligence mission, however, if NSA incidentally acquires information to, form or about a U.S person, such information must be handled in accordance with the proved minimization procedures to safeguard that information," said Carney.

Toomey said that the government has no right to collect people's locations and other private information.

"The ACLU would like to see a surveillance system that operates by targeting particular individual in whom the government has a legitimate interest either because of an established association with terrorism, with criminal activity or another specific factual basis for an intelligence interest."

Advocates have called on Congress to take up legislation to reform NSA data-gathering programs.



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