NSA collected 1 trillion metadata records, harvested 1 billion mobile calls daily

An office of secret NSA spooks celebrated one trillion metadata records collected and counting. . . . One billion cell phone calls can be hoovered up every day—and PRISM surveillance capabilities includes access for real-time digital eavesdropping.

NSA collected 1 trillion metadata records, harvested 1 billion mobile calls daily, new leaked PRISM slides

Secret NSA hackers from the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) office have been cyber-kicking China’s hiney for about 15 years. That bit of news was mixed in with other secret offices and units within the NSA, but The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald revealed details about the Secret Source Operations (SSO) inside the NSA that were responsible for harvesting, viewing, overseeing and processing the all the internet metadata that the NSA collected. On Dec 26, 2012, the SSO announced a “new capability to allow it to collect far more internet traffic and data than ever before.”

This new NSA hoovering system was called the “One-End Foreign (1EF) solution,” but was “codenamed EvilOlive.” The SSO document claimed that it allows “75% of the traffic to pass through the filter” before adding, “After the EvilOlive deployment, traffic has literally doubled.” Then on the last day of 2012, an SSO official boasted about yet another secret NSA program, codenamed ShellTrumpet having “just processed its One Trillionth metadata record.” … It allows tasks such as “direct email tip alerting.” Although “it took five years to get to the one trillion mark, almost half of this volume was processed in this calendar year.”

NSA harvests "one billion cell phone calls every single day"

At the annual Socialism Conference in Chicago, Glenn Greenwald delivered a speech via Skype.  According to the transcript, posted in full on Firedoglake, Greenwald spoke about another leaked NSA document that is “coming soon.”

“It talks about how a brand new technology enables the National Security Agency to redirect into its repositories one billion cell phone calls every single day.” He added, “It doesn’t mean they’re listening to every call. It means they’re storing every call and have the capability to listen to them at any time and it does mean that they’re collecting millions upon millions upon millions of our phone and email records. It is a globalized system designed to destroy all privacy.”

NSA PRISM surveillance allows for real-time access

That eavesdropping capability for real-time access was also confirmed by four new top-secret PRISM data collection slides published by The Washington Post. The slide below shows more about “real-time” and stored content surveillance. The annotation states: “Depending on the provider, the NSA may receive live notifications when a target logs on or sends an e-mail, or may monitor a voice, text or voice chat as it happens.”

PRISM slide talks about real-time surveillance and stored content surveillance

The tech giants all previously denied granting the NSA “direct access” to their servers. Then again, the government denied Total Information Awareness domestic spying as well as having dossiers on all Americans. The FBI’s interception unit equipment, according to another NSA PRISM slide, is “on the premises of private companies” before being “passed to one or more ‘customers’ at the NSA, CIA or FBI.” The Post explained:

After communications information is acquired, the data are processed and analyzed by specialized systems that handle voice, text, video and "digital network information" that includes the locations and unique device signatures of targets. 

Leaked PRISM collection dataflow slide about analyzing information harvested from private companies

PRINTAURA automates the traffic flow. SCISSORS and Protocol Exploitation sort data types for analysis in NUCLEON (voice), PINWALE (video), MAINWAY (call records) and MARINA (Internet records). The systems identified as FALLOUT and CONVEYANCE appear to be a final layer of filtering to reduce the intake of information about Americans.

When The Guardian revealed details about the SSO, it added that the GCHQ—the UK equivalent to the NSA—opened “Transient Thurible,” which allowed even more metadata to flow into NSA repositories. Another SSO entry, dated February 2013, confirmed plans “to expand metadata collection. A joint surveillance collection operation with an unnamed partner agency yielded a new program ‘to query metadata’ that was ‘turned on in the Fall 2012’. Two others, called MoonLightPath and Spinneret, ‘are planned to be added by September 2013’."

It's been said that the NSA has a motto similar to some US military units: "In God we trust, all others we monitor." It seems like everyone is a potential enemy and "target" of the USA; the German magazine Der Spiegel reported that the NSA had bugged European Union offices in order to listen to conversations. The top secret documents were leaked to Der Spiegel by Edward Snowden; they also suggested the NSA tapped into EU internal networks in Washington, at the United Nations, as well as at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, allowing US spooks to listen in on phone calls and to access document and emails. Unsurprisingly, the EU is foaming-at-the-mouth “furious.”

PRISM slides via The Washington Post.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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