Feeds

Latest Snowden leak claims NSA bugged ALL mobile calls in the Bahamas

Not cool, mon, not cool ...

Intelligent flash storage arrays

A fresh dossier of documents apparently from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden claims that the NSA is running a telephone-tapping system that records the metadata and content of all mobile phone calls of two countries, including the island paradise of the Bahamas.

The documents, published in The Intercept, state that the system, dubbed SOMALGET, was installed as part of a legal Drug Enforcement Administration tapping system. This was then used by NSA operatives to record a month's worth of audio calls made in the Bahamas. SOMALGET can process "over 100 million call events per day," and store them for a month at a time.

A 2012 memo from an official in the NSA's International Crime & Narcotics division claims that SOMALGET has already been useful in tracking down drug smugglers and "special-interest alien smugglers." With the right data warehousing and server support, the system is capable of storing five billion "call events", the memo says.

Another memo states that the data processing for such information has been outsourced to US firm General Dynamics, which signed an eight-year, $51m contract with the NSA for the job. The company declined to comment on the issue and referred media questions to the NSA.

SOMALGET has only been deployed in the Bahamas and one other country, according to the documents. The Intercept isn't releasing the name of the other country having its calls slurped "in response to specific, credible concerns that doing so could lead to increased violence."

The SOMALGET system is part of a larger telephone-tapping system developed by the NSA dubbed MYSTIC. The newly leaked documents show MYSTIC is active in others countries – including Mexico, Kenya, and the Philippines – but that in those cases it only collects phone metadata.

MYSTIC was set up in 2009 by the NSA's Special Source Operations (SSO), and uses tapping equipment set up by telecommunications companies to implement legally requested taps for law enforcement. The NSA team uses these covertly to intercept signals intelligence, an NSA memo states.

An undated SSO memo states that the MYSTIC taps are run in conjunction with other government agencies, including the DEA and the CIA. Both the Kenyan and Mexican metadata logging systems are run in conjunction with the CIA and are dubbed DUSKPALLET and EVENINGEASEL respectively.

While declining to comment on the specifics of SOMALGET, the NSA said that "the implication that NSA's foreign intelligence collection is arbitrary and unconstrained is false," adding that it follows procedures to "protect the privacy of U.S. persons" when communications are "incidentally collected." ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.