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NSA REVELATIONS: Ways that would have been previously unimaginable

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 5th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Even George Orwell's Big Brother's mind would be boggled regarding the National Security Agency's breadth and reach into the lives of billions. Top-secret documents and interviews with U.S. intelligence officials have revealed that the NSA is gathering nearly five billion records A DAY on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world. Furthermore, monitored individuals and their partners - wives, husbands, friends, lovers are all part of the ongoing surveillance.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, these records feed a vast database that stores information about the locations of at least hundreds of millions of devices. These findings have provided the intelligence community with what amounts to a mass surveillance tool.

Recent findings prove that the agency acquires a substantial amount of information on the whereabouts of domestic cellphones "incidentally."

One senior collection manager claimed that "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. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Data is frequently collected from the tens of millions of Americans who travel abroad with their cellphones every year.

The efforts to collect and analyze location data may be unsurpassed among the NSA surveillance programs that have been disclosed since June. Imagine this: Analysts can find cellphones anywhere in the world, retrace their movements and expose hidden relationships among the people using them.

U.S. officials maintain that the programs that collect and analyze location data are lawful and intended strictly to develop intelligence about foreign targets.

"There is no element of the intelligence community that under any authority is intentionally collecting bulk cellphone location information about cellphones in the United States," Robert Litt, general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA says.

If this serves as any form of assurance, the NSA says that they have no reason to suspect that the movements of the overwhelming majority of cellphone users. The agency collects locations in bulk because its most powerful analytic tools, which is known collectively as CO-TRAVELER and lets it to look for unknown associates of known intelligence targets by tracking people whose movements intersect.

Mathematical techniques enable NSA analysts to map cellphone owners' relationships by correlating their patterns of movement over time with thousands or millions of other phone users who cross their paths.

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