The NSA has been hitting the headlines these days, thanks to the uncovering of its illicit activities. From surveillance of what you watch online to having the ability to remotely activate Android and laptop mics (although that’s the FBI, to be accurate), the government is on the receiving end of skepticism and ire rolled into one messy bundle. This time, Snowden documents bring another thing to light: the NSA can track mobile phone locations.
Based on the documents leaked by one of the most prolific whistleblowers of our day, the NSA is actually doing these mobile phone tracking activities. In fact, the agency is supposed to be gathering almost 5 billion records a day – records about locations of mobile phones worldwide.
Why would the NSA track mobile phone locations?
This isn’t rocket science. It’s all about tracking locations of individuals. More than that, though, the data gathered is put together and analyzed, an example of which is mapping relationships of the individuals and the locations they have been – presumably linked to events of interest as well.
What about mobile phones in domestic areas? Well, the official word is that “The NSA does not target Americans’ location data by design, but the agency acquires a substantial amount of information on the whereabouts of domestic cellphones “incidentally,” a legal term that connotes a foreseeable but not deliberate result.” (Washington Post)
You can read into that whatever you wish, but I suppose the average person has always “known” that the government has ways of tracking mobile phone locations – stateside or otherwise – and that they have been using this capability. I guess you have nothing to worry about unless you are engaged in something that government does not approve of – and who knows what that is these days! – or if you have a suspicious spouse working in the NSA…
[Image via ibtimes]