The National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting millions of images a day for facial-recognition purposes, according to classified documents obtained from Edward Snowden by the New York Times.
Of those millions of images, approximately 55,000 a day are “facial recognition quality images,” according to the documents. The documents reveal that the NSA is using new software to mine social media, emails, text messages and other digital communications for images. They also show the agency is capable of and interested in intercepting forms of communication beyond text and audio.
“It’s not just the traditional communications we’re after: It’s taking a full-arsenal approach that digitally exploits the clues a target leaves behind in their regular activities on the net to compile biographic and biometric information,” read one document from 2010. An NSA spokeswoman declined to tell the Times if the agency is collecting facial images from social media through means other than digital intercepts.