Good News: The NSA Can Hear You Only 30 Percent of the Time

NSAAll right, not exactly. After all the good snoops
over at the National Intelligence Agency say that they don’t
actually listen in on your conversations; they merely monitor with
whom you talk, for how long you talk, and from where you talk. All
to keep the bogeyman, uh, bad terrorists away.

Today’s Washington Post reports that the NSA can only
actually collect information on about
30 percent
of all of our telephone calls:

National Security Agency
is collecting less than 30 percent of
all Americans’ call records because of an inability to keep pace
with the explosion in cellphone use, according to current and
former U.S. officials.

The disclosure contradicts popular perceptions that the
government is sweeping up virtually all domestic phone data. It is
also likely to raise questions about the efficacy of a program that
is premised on its breadth and depth, on collecting as close to a
complete universe of data as possible in order to make sure that
clues aren’t missed in counterterrorism investigations.

In 2006, the officials said, the NSA was collecting nearly all
records about Americans’ phone calls from a number of U.S.
companies under a then-classified program, but as of last summer
that share had plummeted to less than 30 percent.

But don’t worry that you’re being ignored; the NSA is diligently
seeking permission from its pet Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Court to ramp up its programs so that it can collect up and store
all the records of your phone calls.

With regard to keeping terrorists away, keep in mind that last
month a
by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board appointed by
President Obama stated:

We have not identified a single instance involving a threat to
the United States in which the telephone records program made a
concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism

The same board warned:

Permitting the government to routinely collect the calling
records of the entire nation fundamentally shifts the balance of
power between the state and its citizens…while the danger of
abuse may seem remote, given historical abuse of personal
information by the government during the twentieth century, the
risk is more than merely theoretical.

Secret government is always the chief threat to liberty

from Hit & Run

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