THE PATHOLOGICALLY NOSY US National Security Agency (NSA) collects text messages all over the world every day, according to the Guardian newspaper.
The Guardian has covered many of Edward Snowden NSA surveillance files, along with German and US newspapers. This latest revelation made months into the Snowden fallout is that the NSA engages in untargeted collection of SMS text messages that nets millions of messages daily.
According to the Guardian the NSA acquires two hundred million text messages every day, which it then sifts through and analyses.
The NSA programme is called Dishfire, which is probably not a play on "misfire", and is also being used by the GCHQ in the UK.
Documents that were secret until recently reveal that Dishfire isn't fussy about its snooping, collects "pretty much everything it can", and can collect pretty much everything.
The programme is described in a document produced in 2011 and called "SMS Text Messages: A Goldmine to Exploit".
The Guardian reports that the system uses missed call and roaming messages to build up an idea of people's contacts and travel movements. This, according to the report, provides valuable data, and as the document has it, "such gems are not in current metadata stores and would enhance current analytics".
Also open to inspection are shared electronic business cards and any financial transactions, such as text to text payments, made by telephone. All of this provides the NSA and GCHQ with rather a lot of information.
For example, the NSA was able to identify 1.6 million border crossings a day just through mobile roaming notifications. µ