US spied on over 500 million domestic phone records in 2017, official report says

emReuters Photo/em

Reuters Photo

The National Security Agency (NSA) collected over 534 million U.S. phone records in 2017, according to a government report released late Friday.

The agency used its powers to seize metadata from domestic phone calls and text messages, the report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said.

The metadata did not reveal the contents of phone calls but did allow the NSA to spy on who people call, when and for how long, as well as the amount of characters used in text messages.

Metadata is supposed to be anonymous, however it can be used to identify individuals, as a Stanford lawyer found in 2013. This is done by pairing the metadata with publicly available social media information along with other sources.

The number of phone records obtained by the NSA last year was triple that accessed in 2016, Gizmodo reported.

The sharp increase from 151 million occurred during the second full year of a new surveillance system established at the spy agency after U.S. lawmakers passed a law in 2015 that sought to limit its ability to collect such records in bulk.

The spike in collection of call records coincided with an increase reported on Friday across other surveillance methods, raising questions from some privacy advocates who are concerned about potential government overreach and intrusion into the lives of U.S. citizens.

The 2017 call records tally remained far less than an estimated billions of records collected per day under the NSA’s old bulk surveillance system, which was exposed by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden in 2013.

Overall increases in surveillance hauls were both mystifying and alarming coming years after Snowden’s leaks, privacy advocates said.

“The intelligence community’s transparency has yet to extend to explaining dramatic increases in their collection,” said Robyn Greene, policy counsel at the Washington-based Open Technology Institute that focuses on digital issues.

The government “has not altered the manner in which it uses its authority to obtain call detail records,” Timothy Barrett, a spokesman at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which released the annual report, said in a statement.

The NSA has found that a number of factors may influence the amount of records collected, Barrett said. These included the number of court-approved selection terms, which could be a phone number of someone who is potentially the subject of an investigation, or the amount of historical information retained by phone service providers, Barrett said.

“We expect this number to fluctuate from year to year,” he said.

U.S. intelligence officials have said the number of records collected would include multiple calls made to or from the same phone numbers and involved a level of duplication when obtaining the same record of a call from two different companies.

Friday’s report also showed a rise in the number of foreigners living outside the United States who were targeted under a warrantless internet surveillance program, known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, that Congress renewed earlier this year.

That figure increased to 129,080 in 2017 from 106,469 in 2016, the report said, and is up from 89,138 targets in 2013, or a cumulative rise over five years of about 45 percent.

U.S. intelligence agencies consider Section 702 a vital tool to protect national security but privacy advocates say the program incidentally collects an unknown number of communications belonging to Americans.


11 replies

  1. Reblogged this on Progressive Islam. and commented:
    The Extremist Muslim will lead to Hell—-Progressive Muslim
    Lead to Heavent, insya Allah.

    As God say in Bible and Quran:
    1. The wise men of knowledge ( Progressive one) have brought society to prosperity and peace, to Radical clerics, to bring destruction and calamity to their followers and to the people.

    2. The radical clerics / Priest / Rabbies (Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddha ) deceive their friends, and dry up their followers into sensual and humiliating lives, seeking ways to harm others, even the word hurt / slander.
    3. And do not incline to those who do wrong ( extremist ) that cause you to be touched by the fires of hell.Q.11; 113.

    4. And indeed most (from radical intolerant clerics) really want to mislead (others) with their lust without knowledge. Lo! Thy Lord, He is the one who knows the transgressors. QS.6: 119.

    5. And so We have set in every country the greatest villains in order that they may commit the deceit of the land. And they do not deceive but themselves, and they do not realize it. Q.6: (123)

    When Muslims are in the Minority they are concerned the right of minority, but when they are in the majority, there is no the Minority’s Right. ( Extremist ideology).

    Muslims who follow violent verses of Al Quran and violent Hadith will become Extremist Muslim and the become terrorist and Jihadith.
    So most Clerics do not tell the truth of Islam. They never tell these verses to their followers. They mislead Muslim for centuries.

    All love ❤️

    • Very simple: Listen to the sermons of the Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community on and you will be rightly guided and you will hear the correct interpretation of all verses of the Qur’an ! We are not listening to ‘most clerics’ or ‘this and that extremist’. We are listening to the Khalifa of this time, who was chosen by Allah to guide us TODAY ! (when will Somi get the message?)

    • Somi, your comment, how’s that related to the article. All you do is just nit pick on Muslims and Islam. I have never heard a satisfactory answers or a good thing from you about Islam from you that brings peacefulness or contentment to you. It’s sad, your comment is not even remotely related to the article. At least try commenting about the article

    • I looked at the substance of article, most of you see out side of artkle.

      You see 500 milion domestic phone calls—- I see US is looking for the extremist who will attack US for security reason, it is great.

      O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to Piety: and fear Allah For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do. 5:8.

      Haters are blind, they cannot see the truth their eyes are closed by hatred and then they do not know where to go, then they will fall into the disgrace hole.

      Love is the seed of peace, happiness and prosperity
      But hatred is the seed of evil— unhappiness and poverty.

      Let us love each other, God will bless us.

      All love ❤️

      • Somi, are you an American? Was you privacy affected by this? I know that although all Muslims are not terrorists but u consider all to be a risk, and so you want every single Muslim on earth to be constantly monitored. Somi, should Muslim be allowed a separate graveyard or not? Somi, do you believe all mosques from all the Christian countries be closed and removed? Somi, do you think Muslims should be sent to a different planet so other humans are no longer in danger? Do you think if Muslims are removed from this planet, it will ensure the end of violence? Can you guarantee that?

  2. FYI

    I. Leading Causes of Death
    Cause of Death
    (click cause for more information) Number
    of Deaths % of Total
    All Deaths 42,170,818 100%
    1 Heart Disease 10,939,923 25.9%
    2 Malignant Neoplasms (cancer) 9,646,498 22.9%
    3 Cerebrovascular Disease (stroke) 2,437,998 5.8%
    4 Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease 2,280,130 5.4%
    5 Alzheimer’s Disease 1,257,309 3.0%
    6 Diabetes 1,236,321 2.9%
    7 Influenza & Pneumonia 987,432 2.3%
    8 Nephritis 757,934 1.8%
    9 Traffic Accident 736,370 1.7%
    10 Poisoning 633,556 1.5%
    11 Septicemia 594,484 1.4%
    12 Firearm 533,879 1.3% **********
    13 Liver Disease 521,837 1.2%
    14 Hypertension 420,559 1.0%
    15 Fall 398,060 0.9%
    16 Parkinson’s Disease 348,259 0.8%
    17 Pneumonitis 294,900 0.7%
    18 Suffocation 255,911 0.6%
    19 Benign Neoplasms 244,520 0.6%
    20 Perinatal Period 227,476 0.5%
    21 Aortic Aneurysm 211,973 0.5%
    22 HIV 183,322 0.4%
    23 All Other Causes 7,022,167 16.7%
    *Percentages are rounded to the nearest tenth (one decimal) so the percentages may not add up to 100%.

  3. Riffat— I cannot believe that Riffat as She claim a ahmadiyyah Muslim she still protect the extremist Islamic ideology who has been persecuting Ahmadiyya, Shiah and Christian.
    All love ❤️

    Editor: deleted … there is no benefit in this kind of chit / chat … (extremist Furniture …)

  4. Riffat is protecting extremist Islamist logic, Somi. The problem is your willingness to paint 1.8 billion people as terrorists when most of the just want to please God. Now sure some of these people may have the wrong interpretations but we must tell them the correct way. also how dare you accuse Riffat of supporting extremist ideologies. Extremist ideologies are the ones that cause Ahmadi Muslims to get killed. The apostasy laws in the Muslim world are not Islam but target Ahmadi Muslims.The problem you are calling Muslims bad and like it or not AHMADI MUSLIMS ARE MUSLIMS.

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