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NSA: Some call logs contained personal names, credit card details

The National Security Agency acknowledged it received some financial and personal information when it collected telephone metadata in 2006.

Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 3.07.02 AMAccording to a newly-unclassified document released by Office of National Intelligence, a “very small percentage” of telephone records obtained by the National Security Agency between May 24 and August 2, 2006 contained personal names and credit card information.

The heavily-redacted document — a report prepared by the NSA for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — said some fields located in call records contained “a 16-digit credit card number.” Those numbers seem to have been collected when a person chose to pay for a call with a credit card.

The NSA acknowledged that, along with credit card information, a small percentage of call records also contained the names of the caller — “in some cases just a first name, and in some cases and first and last name” — when a person made a collect call to another individual.

Financial and personal identifying information were collected on “approximately 0.001 percent” of call records obtained in the three month period.

When it received the information, the NSA said it “directed that software be written immediately to suppress — or mask — the digits…whenever a 16-digit string of numbers appeared in the relevant field.”

The first instance of the NSA using this software was on June 19, approximately two weeks after it began receiving the records. The same software was used to mask the proper names.

The document did not say if the names or credit card numbers could be retrieved by other means.

The NSA said it asked the telephone company to stop sending it credit card numbers and personal names associated with the call data.

The name of the telephone company was redacted in the document released on Tuesday. An analysis of the font, font point and length of the redaction found it to be consistent with the name “Verizon.” Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show Verizon had been ordered by the FISC to produce telephone metadata logs in the past.

DOCUMENT: Read the NSA report to the FISC (2006)

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).