Published time: January 16, 2014 19:22
Hours ahead of a speech in which United States President Barack Obama will announce changes to the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, newly leaked documents reveal the NSA collects hundreds of millions of text messages a day.
The results of a joint investigation conducted by Britain’s Guardian newspaper and Channel 4 News has revealed that the NSA and its UK sister-agency, the GCHQ, pair two previously unreported and top-secret national security programs to collect in bulk and then analyze millions of SMS text messages and other digital data sent around the world each day.
Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who left the US last year with a trove of sensitive intelligence documents, supplied the outlets with the evidence, both outlets reported on Thursday.
Mr. Snowden, 30, has shared files contained within a cache of pilfered NSA documents with select reporters in the seven months since he first helped reveal that the NSA has in total secrecy been compelling the nation’s major telecommunications companies to routinely give up the metadata records of millions of customers daily. Pres. Obama is expected to announce changes to that program during a rare address this Friday.
With only hours to spare, however, the commander-in-chief may now be stuck scrambling to put together an explanation to warrant to the world the latest NSA revelation to be made public by Mr. Snowden.
According to leaked files obtained by the British media, the NSA has been collecting nearly 200 million text messages from the world’s cellphones every single day, occasionally using those records to further extract sensitive information such as location data, address book contacts and even financial details.