NSA recommends White House end phone metadata collection program

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The U.S. National Security Agency is recommending that the White House not push to renew a controversial metadata collection program, originally exposed by Edward Snowden in 2013.

NSA metadata


In a switch from its prior position on the matter, the NSA has decided that the program is too much of a burden to keep going, sources informed the Wall Street Journal. The program collects metadata about phone calls and text messages, nominally to trace links between suspects in matters like terrorism. Snowden's leaks showed that many innocent Americans were having data scooped up as well, potentially making it a tool for mass surveillance.

2015's U.S.A. Freedom Act scaled back the program, keeping records in the hands of carriers except when requested through court orders. The NSA's internal records did drop dramatically, although as recently as 2017, it had 534 million records and just 40 targets.

In 2018 the NSA claimed it deleted its entire database of records created since the Freedom Act system launched, a way of coping with glitches that caused carriers to send logs with both accurate and inaccurate information. That resulted in the NSA collecting data from people unconnected to targets, and it supposedly decided it would be easier to wipe records entirely rather than scrub the people it didn't have authority to monitor.

The Freedom Act is due to expire at the end of 2019, and the Trump administration would have to push for renewal legislation if it wants it.

In March an advisor for Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California said that the NSA hadn't been using the metadata collection system for six months. If that's the case, it's likely the Trump administration will let the program die.

Apple CEO Tim Cook quickly became involved after Snowden's revelations, meeting with President Obama and putting pressure on Congress. The company eventually began disclosing government data requests, if only in the vague manner allowed by law.

Less is known about the state of PRISM, an NSA program collecting data from internet-based tech companies. Following the Snowden leaks, Apple insisted that it had "never heard of PRISM" and didn't "provide any government agency with direct access to our servers," despite that sort of access being mentioned in leaked NSA briefing documents.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,637member
    This tells me the data was meaningless, there was too much for them to deal with just to find the few bad guys. If this was truly affective they would not have abandon it like this. It sounds like they were collecting data just for sake of collecting and some bright people thought they could develop an algorithm to find the bad people . I also suspect the people they are interested in have shifted what they are doing. like not using technology.
    edited April 25 cornchipolsJWSCjony0
  • Reply 2 of 16
    maestro64 said:
    This tells me the data was meaningless, there was too much for them to deal with just to find the few bad guys. If this was truly affective they would not have abandon it like this. It sounds like they were collecting data just for sake of collecting and some bright people thought they could develop an algorithm to find the bad people . I also suspect the people they are interested in have shifted what they are doing. like not using technology.
    This tells me they've improved the program, made it more effective, and found additional uses for it.  They're going to "cancel" it publicly and continue it's use with even less oversight.  I'm more inclined to believe the dog and pony show of "this doesn't work" is more feint than fact.  Cynical and conspiratorial?  Maybe.  Wrong?¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 
    lkruppcornchipDAalsethviclauyycmuthuk_vanalingamjony0
  • Reply 3 of 16
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,162member
    maestro64 said:
    This tells me the data was meaningless, there was too much for them to deal with just to find the few bad guys. If this was truly affective they would not have abandon it like this. It sounds like they were collecting data just for sake of collecting and some bright people thought they could develop an algorithm to find the bad people . I also suspect the people they are interested in have shifted what they are doing. like not using technology.
    This tells me they've improved the program, made it more effective, and found additional uses for it.  They're going to "cancel" it publicly and continue it's use with even less oversight.  I'm more inclined to believe the dog and pony show of "this doesn't work" is more feint than fact.  Cynical and conspiratorial?  Maybe.  Wrong?¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 
    if there’s one thing we’ve learned as U.S. citizens over the years it’s that our government cannot be trusted no matter which politicians are in charge. Some of the still classified stuff would likely make our hair stand on end if we knew about it. Just read and research. Experiments infecting black men with syphilis , spraying radioactive chemicals on populations just to see what happened. Attempted genocide of the native North American population for the sake of expansion. 
    viclauyyc
  • Reply 4 of 16
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,237member
    True, but if there's one thing I've learned working in city & federal government as a consultant, is that these are not the best and the brightest...they're government workers, or they're staff augmentation contractor companies like mine (I am also not an elite level guy, or I'd be in the valley...instead I'm doing enterprise work; it's stable and pays fairly well). Plus, nobody can keep secrets forever.
    cornchipJWSC
  • Reply 5 of 16
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,300member
    That’s right folks, the massive and unconstitutional data collection effort which originated under George W. Bush and then was continued with abandon under Obama will likely be ended by the current President.
  • Reply 6 of 16
    One thing you can count on is that all comments will be against the government. 
  • Reply 7 of 16
    amar99amar99 Posts: 31member
    This very article has become a part of the propaganda machine. I don't believe the government -- or anyone in power -- has any desire to do less than they are already doing. If anything, they are seeking more. Even if it means this is happening under the radar.
  • Reply 8 of 16
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,237member
    That’s right folks, the massive and unconstitutional data collection effort which originated under George W. Bush and then was continued with abandon under Obama will likely be ended by the current President.
    You're really grasping at straws now. The president probably doesn't have anything to do with it other than take the agency's recommendation. If anything, he may wish to retain them since he's a law & order boot-licker type.
    chasmmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 9 of 16
    viclauyycviclauyyc Posts: 358member
    That’s right folks, the massive and unconstitutional data collection effort which originated under George W. Bush and then was continued with abandon under Obama will likely be ended by the current President.
    If Obama cancel program like this, you guys will say he is weak on national security.

    but I have to admit Obama can do a lot more.
  • Reply 10 of 16
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,641member
    That’s right folks, the massive and unconstitutional data collection effort which originated under George W. Bush and then was continued with abandon under Obama will likely be ended by the current President.
    Well, except that it has diddly-squat to do with the current president; it wasn't his idea, he'd likely try to block the idea (if anyone tells him ... shhhh!), and this is a recommendation FROM the NSA **to** the rest of the government, not the other way around. So I suggest you turn your tinfoil hat the other way round, your brain seems to be tuned into Opposite Day frequencies.

    This entire program was wildly unconstitutional from the start and should never have been allowed to drag on this long, under any circumstances. America wildly overreacted to 9/11 (and one could cut them a little slack for a short while afterwards, though it was hardly the US' first terrorist attack) and we are still living with the massive degradation in civil rights that came from it, in direct contradiction to the Constitution.
    jony0
  • Reply 11 of 16
    Phone = landline. They never did mass collection of anything else inside the United States. Cell phone metadata has never been mass collected by the NSA.
  • Reply 12 of 16
    This entire program was wildly unconstitutional from the start and should never have been allowed to drag on this long, under any circumstances.
    The wildly unconstitutional part was warrantless wiretaps. That was something that was publicly known as a huge Constitutional issue long before Snowden showed up. That's the reason Snowden had to rely on cuckoo conspiracy stories layered on top of pre-2006 material. There wasn't really much of anything for him to find that could beat warrantless wiretaps from a Constitutional standpoint.
  • Reply 13 of 16
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 3,078member
    Phone = landline. They never did mass collection of anything else inside the United States. Cell phone metadata has never been mass collected by the NSA.
    Uh, read the article or even just look at the image included? It's all about mobile calls and texts, etc.
  • Reply 14 of 16
    That’s right folks, the massive and unconstitutional data collection effort which originated under George W. Bush and then was continued with abandon under Obama will likely be ended by the current President.
    ...because it has been replaced by something far more invasive in the past two years. So this is a nice marketing move by the NSA.
  • Reply 15 of 16
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,300member
    michelb76 said:
    That’s right folks, the massive and unconstitutional data collection effort which originated under George W. Bush and then was continued with abandon under Obama will likely be ended by the current President.
    ...because it has been replaced by something far more invasive in the past two years. So this is a nice marketing move by the NSA.
    Oh, eventually I think it’ll be possible for highly advanced scanners and artificial intelligence to either read someone’s thoughts or infer what are their thoughts with a high degree of accuracy. 
  • Reply 16 of 16
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,637member
    This entire program was wildly unconstitutional from the start and should never have been allowed to drag on this long, under any circumstances.
    The wildly unconstitutional part was warrantless wiretaps. That was something that was publicly known as a huge Constitutional issue long before Snowden showed up. That's the reason Snowden had to rely on cuckoo conspiracy stories layered on top of pre-2006 material. There wasn't really much of anything for him to find that could beat warrantless wiretaps from a Constitutional standpoint.
    I have said this before, you can argue whether the government can collect information on citizens and whether the mere act of collection is unconstitutional. Most people cite the right not to have unreasonable search and seizures as it related to looking to find out if you committed a crime. If this happen then what was found can not be used against you. The way it works the government has to know a law was broken then establish reasonable suspicion you committed that crime and then get a warrant to go after the data. They can not collect non-public data for the purpose to figuring out if any laws was broken and who did it. But they can go back to data they have (think all the CCTV in all the public places recording what you do every day and government owns) after they establish a law was broken and use it to find the person who did it. The Key here, is the government has to be made aware a law was broke first can not go fishing as they said.

    It is not the matter of collecting which is illegal or unconstitutional, it is what they do with the data they collected which can be illegal or unconstitutional. Even is they have illegal data they are not allowed to use it against you in a court of law. The US government in this situation said they were using this data to track people outside the US who were suspected terrorists. The US can listen and collect data on anyone outside the US and use it against them since they are not protected by our constitution. No one has shown that any of this data collection has lead to any US citizens be convicted of any sort of crime. At least they have not track their conviction back to this data collection.

    Somewhat related to this and i am extremely paraphrasing. There was US Supreme Court Case where a guy was convicted of crime and the only way the Police knew who he was, was due to the fact they had collect non-public data unrelated to the case and did not have warrants for the data. They analyzed the data and narrow the pool of people down to this guy. This analysis was never presented at trail (so not used against him) but his lawyer eventually learned about the data collection and found out how they identify his client. The supreme court found it was an illegal search and seizure of data collection which lead to his arrest. There was no other way for the police to have known it was this guy, i.e. they would not have discover this by other means.

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