Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Its not just metadata

The latest NSALeak: the NSA is recording all your phone calls:

The National Security Agency has built a surveillance system capable of recording “100 percent” of a foreign country’s telephone calls, enabling the agency to rewind and review conversations as long as a month after they take place, according to people with direct knowledge of the effort and documents supplied by former contractor Edward Snowden.


The voice interception program, called MYSTIC, began in 2009. Its RETRO tool, short for “retrospective retrieval,” and related projects reached full capacity against the first target nation in 2011. Planning documents two years later anticipated similar operations elsewhere.

In the initial deployment, collection systems are recording “every single” conversation nationwide, storing billions of them in a 30-day rolling buffer that clears the oldest calls as new ones arrive, according to a classified summary.

The call buffer opens a door “into the past,” the summary says, enabling users to “retrieve audio of interest that was not tasked at the time of the original call.” Analysts listen to only a fraction of 1 percent of the calls, but the absolute numbers are high. Each month, they send millions of voice clippings, or “cuts,” for processing and long-term storage.

Recording every phone call ever made for analysis at your leisure goes well beyond even the most sordid fantasy of the Stasi. Apparently only one country is affected so far, but Congress has appropriated money to extend the system to six more (naturally, the Washington Post is collaborating with the NSA in refusing to identify the victims). And no doubt there will be more in the future - unless we vote out the spies, and end all intelligence cooperation with the US.