Friday, January 17, 2014

All your TXTs are belong to them

The latest NSA leak: they're stealing our text messages:

The National Security Agency has collected almost 200 million text messages a day from across the globe, using them to extract data including location, contact networks and credit card details, according to top-secret documents.

The untargeted collection and storage of SMS messages – including their contacts – is revealed in a joint investigation between the Guardian and the UK’s Channel 4 News based on material provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The documents also reveal the UK spy agency GCHQ has made use of the NSA database to search the metadata of “untargeted and unwarranted” communications belonging to people in the UK.

The NSA program, codenamed Dishfire, collects “pretty much everything it can”, according to GCHQ documents, rather than merely storing the communications of existing surveillance targets.

The NSA has made extensive use of its vast text message database to extract information on people’s travel plans, contact books, financial transactions and more – including of individuals under no suspicion of illegal activity.

The fact that they're using this to spy on people who have no suspicion of illegal activity (let alone bullshit "national security" threats) is a perfect example of what is wrong with these agencies: we gave them powers, and they now spy on us basically because they can. And the solution to that problem is obvious: strip them of those powers, slash their budgets, shut them down.

And again, we have to ask: are the GCSB doing this? Or are they "merely" accessing the databases (which is still legally "interception" under New Zealand law, and thus illegal if the target is a New Zealander). Either way, if we are to feel safe from them, we need to cut their links with the NSA and shut them down.