More light has been shed on the extent of the National Security Agency’s monitoring efforts. The Guardian reports that the agency has been collecting close to 200 million text messages a day globally.
Its program, codenamed “Dishfire,” extracts metadata from these messages, including location, contact, and credit card information in an untargeted manner, including those not suspected of illegal activities.
Furthermore, another NSA program called Prefer automatically analyzes the collected communication, including missed call alerts and text messages sent while roaming internationally. In an average day, the agency extracted details about a person’s network from 5 million missed-calls alerts, border crossings from 1.6 million roaming alerts, more than 800,000 financial transactions from credit cards linked to users’ phones, and more than 110,000 names from electronic business cards.
With such automated programs, the cost of spying on citizens is cheaper than ever, as low as $5.21 an hour to collect data from cell phones. Looks like Blackphone, a secure Android phone announced yesterday, can make even more of a case for itself.