NSA Reportedly Tracking Cell Phone Location Data

According to leaked documents from whistleblower and Russian residency enthusiast, Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency is tracking people’s whereabouts en masse. By collecting the location data from billions of cell phone records, the National Security Agency can map the relationships of suspects, reports The Washington Post.

The Post even has a delightfully artistic explainer video to ease our transition to an Orwellian state with a pleasant voice-over and soothing graphics (below)

As per usual, the NSA claims that the location-tracking program is completely legal. Even when users opt-out of location tracking apps, cell phones still need to connect to towers to transmit calls, which can be used to triangulate a location throughout the day.

“Sophisticated mathematical techniques enable NSA analysts to map cellphone owners’ relationships by correlating their patterns of movement over time with thousands or millions of other phone users who cross their paths. Cellphones broadcast their locations even when they are not being used to place a call or send a text,” explains The Post.

The NSA also claims that only foreigners are targeted, but it does incidentally pick up data on potentially millions of Americans. Millions of people are connected to a target through two degrees of separation.

If you’re #outraged, you may be in the minority: most Americans support the NSA’s vast dragnet. Still, Congress is moving forward with several competing surveillance reform packages. Any reform will likely have to wait until the president’s NSA task force group issues its recommendations.

Until then, any guesses on what else the NSA is tracking?

[Image Credit: Flickr User frozenchipmunk]