Hundreds of millions of text messages which have been scooped up in a secret operation can be viewed by British spies, according to the latest leak from whistleblower Edward Snowden.
A secret database called Dishfire was created by America's National Security Agency (NSA) which stores messages for future use and British spies - who face tough domestic laws - have been given a back door to exploit that information, it was claimed by Channel 4 News and the Guardian.
Dishfire, a database that collects nearly 200 million texts everyday from around the world, traces people when they take their mobile phone abroad and are sent a welcome message from their phone company.
The texts help the NSA to track people's whereabouts, their contacts, their banking details and their movements if they travelled from country to country, it is claimed.
British spy agencies can only access text message data of specific targets with permission and if they want to see the content of the message they must get a warrant from a secretary of state.
Dishfire collects data on everyone so by accessing the system, British spies can pull off information they wouldn't be entitled to under strict British laws.
More top news
Becoming clearer and cooler across western areas.