NSA gathers 200 million text messages daily, Snowden leak says

A leak from Edward Snowden reveals an NSA program that collects 200 million text messages each day from unspecified targets.
(Frederic J. Brown / AFP/Getty Images)

The National Security Agency collects nearly 200 million text messages per day from around the world as part of a program code named Dishfire, according to a new report based on data leaked by Edward Snowden.

The NSA gathers text messages with Dishfire to collect all kinds of information, including where people are traveling to and their financial transactions, according to The Guardian and Britain’s Channel 4 News. The two news organizations used documents provided by Snowden to uncover the program.

Dishfire works by gathering text messages from random targets -- meaning it includes innocent people -- each day. A second program, named Prefer, is then used to analyze that data.


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According to the documents provided by Snowden, Dishfire collected 194 million text messages each day during April 2011.

Using the program, the NSA was able to gather 5 million missed-call alerts, the details of 1.6 million daily border crossings, more than 110,000 names from business cards sent in text messages and more than 800,000 financial transactions.

The NSA has denied that it collects data as described in the Dishfire documents, telling the Guardian that all its surveillance was aimed at solely at specific foreign intelligence targets.

The text message report comes at a bad time for President Obama, who is set to speak Friday about reforms to the NSA.



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