Study claims NSA phone data collection is useless in preventing terrorist attacks

By on January 14, 2014, 8:56 AM
nsa, research, president obama, terrorism, surveillance, phone data collection, reform, new america foundation

Ahead of President Obama's expected announcement of widespread NSA reform later this month, a new study brings the agency's mass phone data collection operation under fire saying that it has had no positive impact on preventing acts of terrorism.

The New America Foundation's study, which was based on 225 different terrorism cases, found that the basic and traditional means of law enforcement were far more effective against preventing acts of terrorism. Informants and tipsters made up for the majority of the leads law enforcement successfully followed up on, with about 48 of those cases made possible by surveillance warrants and other traditional methods.

Compare those numbers to the one single case NSA bulk data collection has contributed to, and it isn't hard to see how ineffective the agency has been, when it comes to preventing terrorism that is. "Indeed, the controversial bulk collection of American telephone metadata, which includes the telephone numbers that originate and receive calls, as well as the time and date of those calls but not their content, under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, appears to have played an identifiable role in initiating, at most, 1.8 percent of these cases," the New America Foundation said.

Most of us feel the agency is better at spying on regular citizens than preventing terrorist attacks, and so does President Obama's advisory board which agrees that the NSA's data collection “was not essential to preventing attacks” and that the agency's secrecy could be doing more harm than good. The advisory board added that any of the usable information “could readily have been obtained in a timely manner using conventional [court] orders." Obama is set to make NSA reform announcements come January 17 that are said be closely based on recommendations from the advisory board.




User Comments: 15

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1 person liked this | Nobina Nobina said:

NSA doesn't give a shit about preventing terrorist attacks, they just want to spy so ofcourse it is useless.

MilwaukeeMike said:

As strange as this may sound, I'm glad their spying wasn't doing much to help (if the study is to be believed). Now we can get rid of these programs without worrying much about the downside.

@Nobina - it's not useless because they 'just want to spy' it's useless because the bad guys are smarter than the algorithms. Go figure, a human can outsmart a computer huh?

Guest said:

If you are searching for Gold in a Hog Farm, you are not going to find Diamonds.

They say there is no such thing as perfection. I have just proven 'them' wrong. That is the absolute perfect analogy.

1 person liked this | davislane1 davislane1 said:

If you are searching for Gold in a Hog Farm, you are not going to find Diamonds.

They say there is no such thing as perfection. I have just proven 'them' wrong. That is the absolute perfect analogy.

No you didn't. That analogy is merely a logical fallacy dressed up with compelling rhetoric.

fimbles fimbles said:

Better late than never I guess. The damage however has already been done and no tech company is going to set foot in the usa for some time.

Neojt said:

This study is valid IF "American telephone metadata, which includes the telephone numbers that originate and receive calls, as well as the time and date of those calls but not their content," is true

and IF the ones they cauth with this system where brouth to trial rather than eliminated the threat

just saying

Guest said:

So.. the foiled attacks. how where they found out?

treetops treetops said:

Lol no one else sees this as a attempt to try and make terrorists more comfortable huh

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'd go so far as to say NSA spying provokes attacks. I know if I ever concretely found out they are actually taking effort to spy on me, it would provoke an attack. It doesn't matter if I am guilty or innocent, it would provoke an attack. I could only imagine those with power to strike back would not hesitate to do so. You don't prevent an attack by provoking it!

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

I doubt very much anything will change within the NSA anytime soon.

davislane1 davislane1 said:

So.. the foiled attacks. how where they found out?

I know you aren't suggesting this is our only surveillance/intelligence program?

No.1 rule of government military and spy programs: If a civilian finds out about it, it's only the snowflake at the tip of the iceberg.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I'd go so far as to say NSA spying provokes attacks. I know if I ever concretely found out they are actually taking effort to spy on me, it would provoke an attack. It doesn't matter if I am guilty or innocent, it would provoke an attack. I could only imagine those with power to strike back would not hesitate to do so. You don't prevent an attack by provoking it!
How should we categorize this post? Perhaps something like, "inside the mind of someone who imagines they can see inside the mind of terrorists in general". Or maybe, "a broad generalization about the inner working of someone else's mind, based in pure paranoid speculation.

No matter though, I want to be a "closet Osama Bin Laden", if I ever grow up too.....

veLa veLa said:

Don't buy the reformation part, that's totally phony. It's like committing a murder, getting caught for said murder, and then getting off scott free after pushing for anti-murder reforms.

tonylukac said:

I don't know what happened to this country. Remember when we used to deport spys?

Neojt said:

I don't know what happened to this country. Remember when we used to deport spys?

Yeah now we import them from China...like the rest of the stuff... its cheaper and almost just has good

sry could not resist

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