Hundreds of millions of phone locations are tracked by the NSA

Edward Snowden
Thanks for another one, Ed

The National Security Agency is looking at more than just our Google searches, emails and text messages.

The NSA also tracks the location data from hundreds of millions of mobile phones around the world, largley by tapping into the cables that connect mobile networks globally, according to the Washington Post.

In all the agency collects and stores five billion call records a day, the Post reported.

This latest leak comes from documents provided by leaker Edward Snowden as well as interviews with US intelligence officials. Clearly, the revelation has some disturbing implications.

Hide your kids, hide your phones, they're tracking everybody out here

The location data that the NSA is said to collect allows the agency to track people's movements and map out their relationships in ways never before seen.

Since phone users' location data is "metadata" that's collected "incidentally," it's not considered to be protected by the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution.

The amendment is meant to guard against unreasonable searches and seizures and requires warrants to be sanctioned by a judge and supported by probable clause.

What's more, officials reportedly claimed that the bulk of location tracking occurs outside the US.

US officials said that the location data collection programs the NSA uses are within the organization's legal rights, and that they're "intended strictly to develop intelligence about foreign targets."

A bigger boat

But the NSA is collecting so much location data that it's reportedly spent the last year and a half upgrading its systems to provide greater storage capacity (its database is rumored to be around 17 terabytes already).

The agency apparently needs to collect data on a planetary scale for its algorithms to be able to accurately track targets' relationships.

The report claimed the data is collected with the help of corporations around the world that are referred to in internal NSA documents by awesome codenames like "ARTIFICE" and "WOLFPOINT."

Did the Washington Post just leak the plot of the next Bond movie, or are things really this bad?

Michael Rougeau

Michael Rougeau is a former freelance news writer for TechRadar. Studying at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Northeastern University, Michael has bylines at Kotaku, 1UP, G4, Complex Magazine, Digital Trends, GamesRadar, GameSpot, IFC, Animal New York, @Gamer, Inside the Magic, Comic Book Resources, Zap2It, TabTimes, GameZone, Cheat Code Central, Gameshark, Gameranx, The Industry, Debonair Mag, Kombo, and others.

Micheal also spent time as the Games Editor for, and was the managing editor at GameSpot before becoming an Animal Care Manager for Wags and Walks.