For nearly a decade now, the National Security Agency has been slowly expanding its ability to automatically capture voice calls and convert them to searchable text—in effect, creating rough transcripts of specific calls that contain words or phrases of interest.
This effort, which the NSA itself dubbed “Google for Voice” back in 2006, was revealed on Tuesday by The Intercept, which cited and published a number of documents from the Snowden archive. While some (including Ars) speculated about the existence of such a system at the time, the new documents provide a clear window into the evolution of the NSA’s speech-to-text capabilities. This technology is used not only for NSA analysts but also to support the Department of Defense and the United States military overseas.
Presumably, the NSA is capturing and analyzing significant portions of foreign voice traffic, including Skype.Those captures likely also include calls originating from or terminating within the United States. (Last year, The Intercept published other documents showing that the NSA had been capturing and transcribing every call in the Bahamas.)
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