Snowden documents show how NSA converts Audio calls into searchable data

A new Edward Snowden document released by The Intercept describes the way NSA converted voice calls into searchable text files for about a decade. 

In a new document released by The Intercept from the cache of government files possessed by Edward Snowden has exposed how the National Security Agency (NSA) has been converting audio calls into identifiable text files.

At least for a decade, the NSA has managed to discreetly monitor signals intelligence (SIGNIT) throughout the world specifically in active combat zones like Latin America, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Usually, this kind of data collection involved listening to calls via a live operator and translating them in real-time. However, an automated system called “Google for Voice” was developed by the NSA, which provided a transcription that was rough but keyword searchable.

As per the documents, the NSA also developed sophisticated algorithms and analytical programs to flag voice calls for the human review.

Moreover, this monitoring was conducted on an industrial and automated scale, which allowed the NSA to track huge amounts of total SIGNIT traffic in a specific region. 

Latin America, Afghanistan and Iraq were the main targets

It is true that these transcriptions aren’t flawless but according to another NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake these “can still get a lot more information. It’s far more accessible. I can search against it. The breakthrough was being able to do it on a vast scale.”

The Intercept
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