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NSA 'Collected 200 Million texts per day'
According to the latest information reported out of the UK based on leaks by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the US National Security Agency (NSA) has collected and stored almost 200 million text messages a day from around the world.
The NSA extracted data on people's travel plans, contact networks, financial transactions and more based on the database of text messages. The NSA told the BBC the programme stored "lawfully collected SMS data". "The implication that NSA's collection is arbitrary and unconstrained is false," the NSA said. According to the Guardian, documents also reveal the NSA's UK counterpart GCHQ had searched the NSA's database for information regarding people in the UK.
On Thursday, the White House said Mr Obama had briefed UK Prime Minister David Cameron on the review. GCHQ has said all of its work was "carried out in accordance with the strict legal and policy framework".
President Barack Obama is set on Friday to announce changes to the US electronic surveillance programmes, based in part on a review of NSA activities undertaken this autumn by a White House panel.
The programme, Dishfire, analyses SMS messages to extract information including contacts from missed call alerts, location from roaming and travel alerts, financial information from bank alerts and payments and names from electronic business cards, according to the report.
Through the vast database, which was in use at least as late as 2012, the NSA gained information on those who were not specifically targeted or under suspicion, the report says.
The NSA says its activities were "focused and specifically deployed against - and only against - valid foreign intelligence targets in response to intelligence requirements".
While acknowledging the SMS data of US residents may be "incidentally collected", the NSA added "privacy protections for US persons exist across the entire process".
"In addition, NSA actively works to remove extraneous data, to include that of innocent foreign citizens, as early as possible in the process."
Mr Snowden, a former contractor with the NSA, has been charged in the US with espionage and is currently a fugitive in Russia.
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