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back to article NSA collects up to FIVE BILLION mobile phone locations daily

The NSA is maintaining a mobile device tracking program that logs up to five billion updates per day around the world, according to a new report. The Washington Post, citing government sources and documents leaked by Edward Snowden, reports that the US intelligence agency has built a massive database of locational information …

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Want to know what these records have the potential to look like? Press play: http://www.zeit.de/datenschutz/malte-spitz-data-retention

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So the Germans are doing it too. So much for privacy laws.

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Oh No

Please don't tell my wife where I am!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oh No

Wait - how did you know I was with your wife???

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STZ

No, the Germans aren't doing this any more, Tracking mobiles and keeping the related location data without an order issued by a judge ("Vorratsdatenspeicherung") has been declared illegal in 2010 by Germany's high court of constitution.

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Alien

All

your basetowers are belong to US(A)

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Joke

So NSA officials say it's not illegal?

That's fine by me then, no conflict of interest there at all. Nosireebob.

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Re: So NSA officials say it's not illegal?

...and the guys who went into the local bank with a shotgun and demanded all the cash said that wasn't illegal either. And Tony Bliar said invading Iraq wasn't illegal.

Is anything illegal these days?

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Re: So NSA officials say it's not illegal?

Not if you happen to own enough artillery, it seems.

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Anonymous Coward

"Government sources told the post that the collection is only being used to track possible 'co-travelers' and has not been deemed by NSA officials to be illegal surveillance."

Nothing is deemed illegal surveillance by the NSA. I take that back, monitoring what the NSA does is illegal surveillance.

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Yay, weasel words!

You know, if I was responsible for fallout management at the NSA, I would just stop talking. I'd stop everybody in the agency from talking. Every single time they say something it just makes them look even more incompetent and it creates all kinds of new avenues with which to pressure the agency.

For example, what the fuck is a 'co-traveller'? When did the NSA get the power to determine the legality of anything? They're making the situation far worse for themselves with their insane justifications for their actions. They should just shut up. Using weasel words and outright lying hasn't worked, maybe just shutting up will help.

I, in absolutely no way, approve of the NSA's activities, but at the same time it really pisses me off when the people hired with tax dollars are so utterly useless. It's simply embarrassing. You certainly don't need press agents if all you're doing is putting random words into something resembling sentences then just repeating them. If they're going to do this, please dear lord, do it properly. This drunken monkey public relations disaster really needs to stop.

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I have a cunning plan m'lud

It's a conspiracy to make us think they're incompetent ..

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@Don Jefe: "what the fuck is a 'co-traveller'?"

I believe this is some NSA PR drone's not-quite-successful attempt to remember the term "fellow traveller" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fellow_traveler. I'll leave it to you to decide whether it should be deemed ironic or frightening or both.

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Anonymous Coward

co-traveller

a co-traveller is presumably somebody else on the same bus/train/pavement/traffic jam that can be located within 50 yards of their mark for any length of time. Cue the lookup of that co-traveller to see if there is any link, therefore presumed guilt of association. Tough if you use the same bus as a "terrorist"

Much like how the UK police monitor all the number plates of cars near protests, then assume that if that number plate turns up near another protest, it is linked to a "person of interest". Tough if you live near a fox-hunt.

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what the fuck is a 'co-traveller'?

Lice? We ARE talking about bugs, after all.

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Black Helicopters

Simple rule

Assume everything is being monitored and analysed.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Simple rule

I've assumed that since BC allowed the export of strong crypto.

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Slow down kids,

big brother is doing it all for your own good.

And the secrecy is just because you are too stupid to recognize a good idea when you see it. Combine your stupidity with that democracy thing and there is a real danger that your stupid and uninformed opinion might make a difference. So you see, it's only for your best if you know nothing at all. Go back to reading fiction. It's the same stories but you will be much more relaxed.

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Terminator

5 Billion

If they are only interested in certain people, 5 Billion signals still represents a hell of a lot of people, even at a 1000 signals pers person that still represents 5 Million people per day.

Totalitarianism is here and it's probably here to stay....

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Re: 5 Billion

Where's Blake when you really need him?

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Stop

Why am I not surprised??

And soon the news will break that the NSA does this in the USA, but it's for Americans own good!!

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Guilt by Coincidence

By the Law of Truly Large Numbers, it's only a matter of time before some innocent gets identified as an "associate" of a terror group merely by a coincidence of cell tower usage, and then gets permanently banged-up in Guantanamo.

Tsutomu Yamaguchi had it bad enough, but if it happened again today, he'd never get to speak to a lawyer.

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Re: Guilt by Coincidence

How do you know it hasn't happened already? If it did, you probably wouldn't get to hear about it.

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Re: Guilt by Coincidence

"By the Law of Truly Large Numbers, it's only a matter of time before some innocent gets identified as an "associate" of a terror group merely by a coincidence of cell tower usage, and then gets permanently banged-up in Guantanamo."

You're a bit behind the times, guilt by coincidence is already an accepted part of the justice system here. Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead on the Tube in 2005 by police because of the coincidence that he came out of a block of flats at the wrong time (specifically, while the surveillance officer was having a piss and couldn't see who came out). Ignoring the fact that there were literally dozens of people that might have come out the door, the officer radioed in that his suspect had left the building and was on his way to launch a terrorist attack.

Once he had been executed without even a warning, let alone a trial, the police invented various stories about his "suspicious" behaviour and bulky clothing, all of which were shown to be lies by CCTV footage. The government eventually said that it was Charles' own fault because he had overstayed his visa by a couple of months and gave out a bunch of promotions to those responsible.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: Guilt by Coincidence

Tis true. Cressida Dick is now a Commander (deputy chief constable equivalent) in the Met. She was in charge of de Menezes' manslaughter.

I still find it incredible that no armed policeman has ever been brought to trial after killing someone on duty.

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Re: Guilt by Coincidence

The police are literally above the law.

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Vic
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Re: Guilt by Coincidence

I still find it incredible that no armed policeman has ever been brought to trial after killing someone on duty.

[Emphasis mine]

I don't find it incredible at all. They were specifically authorised and ordered to do what they did. They were led to believe that they were preventing a terrorist atrocity.

The numbnuts that told them to do it, however, ...

Vic.

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Re: Guilt by Coincidence

> They were specifically authorised and ordered to do what they did.

Well said. Given the info they had, they had no choice and would certainly do it again. I can't criticise them, indeed I feel sorry for them. One guy killed an innocent man and he has to live with that, and the others know they helped. That they were the people who have to do the dirty work doesn't necessarily make them monsters or pschos.

The problem was the info, and I'm not clear what went wrong. Probably it was an avoidable mistake but you know, just occasionally shit happens and knees get bruised and sometimes people get killed. There's no guaranteed safety in this world, live with it.

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Re: Guilt by Coincidence

"I don't find it incredible at all. They were specifically authorised and ordered to do what they did. They were led to believe that they were preventing a terrorist atrocity."

Utter rubbish. They could see that the information they had was wrong - the guy was sitting in a t-shirt reading the paper. There was nothing and nowhere he could have been hiding a bomb. The fact that they lied their guts out afterwards ("he acted suspiciously"; "he jumped over the barriers"; "he ran when challenged"; "he was wearing a bulky top" etc etc.) is clear evidence that they knew they'd done something wrong and were covering up.

The whole lot should be rotting in jail; perhaps if they had been then the London riots might not have happened.

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Optional

Dear NSA,

I lost one of my mobiles a few years ago. I suspect it may be in the Brecon Beacons somewhere (I used the GPS on it to track my walks). Any chance you could check up on its last known location?

Thanks in advance.

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Anonymous Coward

NSA?

C'mon, its not only the NSA.

As far as I know, FIRST HAND, it's GCHQ, CSID (Spain) and several Israeli security forces.

Second hand, several spanish security forces, and most western agencies.

Of course, the location is only a small part of the puzzle, you have to include plate number identification, SMS emails, etc, Social sites, web navigation, credit card information and phone recording voice recognition (on "high points" subjects)

Add points based on contacts, and there you have it: dossiers galore.

Anon, even if I didn't sign the papers (I refused to take part in that).

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Re: NSA?

Don't forget the phone companies themselves. They probably don't retain the information very long for cost reasons, but they surely log it, and probably mine it for useful data they can then sell to marketers, advertising agencies ('How many people walked past this billboard last week?') and town planners ('How many times did this road exceed intended pedestrian traffic capacity, and how much did they slow down to look at the christmas display?')

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Anonymous Coward

Re: NSA?

Suricou, as per the very first post, this;

http://www.zeit.de/datenschutz/malte-spitz-data-retention

comes from the phone company, who knows what the NSA have the capability of doing beyond this.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: NSA?

Don't forget the phone companies themselves

Yes, they are actually legally obliged to provide intercept facilities when requested, it's part of getting a telecomms license.

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Big Brother

The NSA love playing games...

...this one is called "Connect the Dots".

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Meh

Since a week ago last Sunday ...

our company adopted satellite pagers.

We also have a Mitel IP switch that receives Freephone 800 type calls from people who have received pages and, on request, will connect parties together.

Sorry GCHQ/NSA - we are using our radio comms even less these days. Me - very, very rarely.

I have a feeling that VietNam cell companies don't participate in data sharing, any way, along with China.

VietNam has a human population of around 83-million and a working cell handset population of 125-million! That should confuse the NSA CO-TRAVELLER software.

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America

The 4th Reich.

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Anonymous Coward

That's the good news

If they could triple that number we'd all be better off except for the crims.

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