The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

December 5, 2013

Report: NSA tracks billions of cellphones daily

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Security Agency tracks the locations of nearly 5 billion cellphones every day overseas, including those belonging to Americans abroad, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The NSA inadvertently gathers the location records of "tens of millions of Americans who travel abroad" annually, along with the billions of other records it collects by tapping into worldwide mobile network cables, the newspaper said in a report on its website.

Such data means the NSA can track the movements of almost any cellphone around the world, and map the relationships of the cellphone user. The Post said a powerful analytic computer program called CO-TRAVELER crunches the data of billions of unsuspecting people, building patterns of relationships between them by where their phones go. That can reveal a previously unknown terrorist suspect, in guilt by cellphone-location association, for instance.

As the NSA doesn't know which part of the data it might need, the agency keeps up to 27 terabytes, or more than double the text content of the Library of Congress' print collection, the Post said. A 2012 internal NSA document said the volumes of data from the location program were "outpacing our ability to ingest, process and store" it, the newspaper said.

The program is detailed in documents given to the newspaper by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden. The Post also quotes unidentified NSA officials, saying they spoke with the permission of their agency.

Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, declined to comment on the report.

The DNI's general counsel, Robert Litt, has said that NSA does not intentionally gather bulk location data on U.S. cellphones inside the U.S. — but NSA Director Keith Alexander testified before Congress his agency ran tests in 2010 and 2011 on "samples" of U.S. cell-site data to see if it was technically possible to plug such data into NSA analysis systems. Alexander said that the information was never used for intelligence purposes and that the testing was reported to congressional intelligence committees. He said it was determined to be of little "operational value," so the NSA did not ask for permission to gather such data.

Text Only
AP National
  • Obama voices skepticism on Russia in Ukraine WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama conveyed skepticism Thursday about Russian promises to de-escalate a volatile situation in Ukraine, and said the United State and its allies are ready to impose fresh sanctions if Moscow doesn't make good on i

    April 18, 2014

  • Late sign-ups improve outlook for Obama health law WASHINGTON (AP) — A surge of eleventh-hour enrollments has improved the outlook for President Barack Obama's health care law, with more people signing up overall and a much-needed spark of interest among young adults. Nonetheless, Obama's announcemen

    April 18, 2014

  • Cyber cops: Target hackers may take years to find WASHINGTON (AP) — Secret Service investigators say they are close to gaining a full understanding of the methods hackers used to breach Target's computer systems last December. But the agency says it could take years to identify the criminals who sto

    April 18, 2014

  • 10 Things to Know for Today Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today: 1. UKRAINIAN MILITIA DENIES CALLS TO FREE BUILDINGS Pro-Russian insurgents in the east who have been occupying government buildings say they will

    April 18, 2014

  • White House updating online privacy policy WASHINGTON (AP) — A new Obama administration privacy policy released Friday explains how the government will gather the user data of online visitors to WhiteHouse.gov, mobile apps and social media sites, and it clarifies that online comments, whether

    April 18, 2014

  • A year after background check defeat, modest goals WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic worries about this November's elections, a lack of Senate votes and House opposition are forcing congressional gun-control supporters to significantly winnow their 2014 agenda, a year after lawmakers scuttled President Ba

    April 16, 2014

  • Court to weigh challenge to ban on campaign lies WASHINGTON (AP) — Negative campaigning and mudslinging may be a fact of life in American politics, but can false accusations made in the heat of an election be punished as a crime? That debate makes its way to the Supreme Court next week as the justi

    April 16, 2014

  • College Board provides a glimpse of new SAT WASHINGTON (AP) — Anxious students — not to mention their parents — can get a heads-up for how the redesigned SAT might look in two years. Sample questions for the new version of the college-entrance test were released on Wednesday by the College Boa

    April 16, 2014

  • End of NYPD Muslim surveillance program applauded NEW YORK (AP) — Muslim groups and civil liberties advocates applauded the decision by New York Police Department officials to disband a controversial unit that tracked the daily lives of Muslims as part of efforts to detect terrorism threats, but the

    April 16, 2014

  • 10 Things to Know for Today Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today: 1. NEARLY 300 PEOPLE ARE MISSING AFTER KOREAN BOAT SINKS The accident involving a ferry that was headed to a tourist island killed three passenger

    April 16, 2014

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National