U.S. secret services developed a spy program, capable of recording 100% of each and every phone call across entire nations. The Washington Post shares another bit of classified information referring to secret documents supplied by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Previously reported surveillance system could track phone numbers, times and duration of calls. Now, MYSTIC is used to intercept phone conversations in one specific country, storing audio data for 30 days.
This NSA program dates to 2009, when by 2011 its RETRO tool, short for “retrospective retrieval”, was ready to be rolled-out at full capacity. Program's senior managers compared MYSTIC to a time machine, meaning voices from any call can be replayed without requiring the NSA to identify a person for surveillance in advance.
U.S. authorities obliged The Washington Post to withhold any information that can be used to identify countries, "effected" by MYSTIC. But last year’s secret intelligence budget suggests that MYSTIC was planned to be put in place across six countries as of last October.
The presidential directive that authorises this type of collection 'makes clear that signals intelligence collected in bulk may only be used to meet specific security requirements.’ To counter threats regarding espionage, terrorism, proliferation, cyber security and other threads to U.S. national security, MYSTIC allows to search its database by a phone number and retrieve audio of conversations in the last 30 days.