Report: NSA Collects 200 Million Texts Daily
(WASHINGTON) -- As President Obama prepares to announce his changes to U.S. spy programs, the British media is reporting that as many as 200 million text messages are stored daily by the National Security Agency. The information is the latest bombshell from The Guardian, which has been publishing previously classified intelligence leaked to the British newspaper by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden since last spring.
According to the The Guardian, the NSA extracts and stores data from the text messages. The paper adds that some of the information has been viewed by British spy agencies.
In response to the report, the NSA told the BBC that the collection of messages is neither arbitrary nor unconstrained, adding that its activities were "focused and specifically deployed against -- and only against -- valid foreign intelligence targets in response to intelligence requirements."
This new revelation comes as Obama will talk about revisions to surveillance data collection at the White House Friday.
A senior administration official tells ABC News the president will order a transition to end the so-called metadata program that collects and stores millions of phone records “as it currently exists,” but the revisions will “preserve the capabilities” of the program.
"The president believes that the '215 program' addresses important capabilities that allow us to counter terrorism, but that we can and should be able to preserve those capabilities while addressing the privacy and civil liberties concerns that are raised by the government holding this metadata," the official said.
The data would be stored by a nongovernment entity, although it is unclear which one. The program will be modified to require a judicial finding each time the government accesses the database, the senior administration official said.
Obama will ask U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the intelligence community to come up with a permanent plan to move metadata out of the control of the NSA by March 28.
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