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The NSA is recording all cellphone calls in the Bahamas

Nicole Lee, @nicole
May 19, 2014
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You might want to be careful of what you say over the phone the next time you visit the Bahamas. According to The Intercept, NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden reveal that the security agency is not just listening to all mobile calls made to, from and within the island nation, but also recording and archiving them for up to a month. Apparently the access was legally obtained via the US Drug Enforcement Administration and is part of a top-secret program called SOMALGET, which itself is a piece of MYSTIC, a larger NSA program that The Washington Post wrote about in March. While MYSTIC can detect metadata such as the time, location and date of the call, SOMALGET can supposedly store "full-take audio" or the call's entire contents.

The Intercept reports that MYSTIC is already deployed in countries such as Mexico, the Philippines and Kenya, but SOMALGET is unique to the Bahamas and a mysterious "unnamed country" that the publication refuses to divulge in fear of violent retaliation. The documents state that SOMALGET was enacted to locate "international narcotics traffickers and special-interest alien smugglers," though it appears that the NSA has been recording calls indiscriminately, regardless of their connection to the drug trade. Neither the NSA nor any of the countries mentioned had any comment, though the agency did tell The Intercept that it does attempt to "protect the privacy of U.S. persons" for "incidentally collected" communications.

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