NSA quietly stops controversial mass phone surveillance program after public outcry and...

William Gayde

Posts: 380   +5
Staff member

News of the program's cancellation was just made public a few days ago when House aide Luke Murry discussed the issue in a podcast. Exact details of the program are still highly classified, but it appears that the Trump Administration has not used the program or its data for over half a year.

The program was known for sweeping surveillance of call records and other metadata for US citizens. It was originally started in 2001 as part of the USA PATRIOT Act where it collected and analyzed call records from all service providers. The goal was to establish patterns that might indicate communication among terrorists.

The Obama administration reduced the program's scope to only individuals with FISA warrants, but there were still major issues. This included technical difficulties that resulted in the unintended surveillance of US citizens without FISA warrants. In 2017, the program had authorization to monitor just 40 targets, yet it collected 534 million phone records. As a result, the NSA announced that they were deleting all call records acquired since 2015 and fixing the issues.

That was back in June of 2018 and based on Murry's statements, it looks like the program never really resumed after that. The program is set to expire in December and he believes the Trump administration will not renew it.

A spokesman for McCarthy's office told The New York Times that he "was not speaking on behalf of administration policy or what Congress intends to do on this issue."

Permalink to story.

 

Satish Mallya

Posts: 195   +184
TechSpot Elite
On the one hand, hooray! Less surveillance.

On the other hand, it's potentially destruction of evidence. If those records go back to 2015, I can think of a few people who would be glad to see them gone, especially since they concern communication with foreign individuals...
 

psycros

Posts: 3,385   +3,858
Well of course their going to stop recording calling record data under that program. They built a massive utility in Utah to record not only that but every single phone call, email and text message that passes through US phone lines. Their currently building out the capacity to monitor all major social networks as well, but only regarding persons of interest (so far). Their recording the actual contents of your communication now, not just who you talked to and for how long. And its under a different program entirely.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utah_Data_Center
 

OutlawCecil

Posts: 739   +570
Everybody: We want less surveillance!

also everybody: I can't let my child out of my sight for 2 seconds. I don't want him to hurt himself.

I live a boring life. If some heavy-breathing person listening to my boring phonecalls means that same person gets to overhear and stop terrorists, please do. People demand safety but they also demand privacy. It's like hiring a blind body guard.
 

Darth Shiv

Posts: 2,152   +752
What an obscene overreach it was. 534 MILLION records? It's obvious the collection was abused for other purposes. US Govt corruption at its finest.
 

FF222

Posts: 262   +200
"NSA quietly stops controversial mass phone surveillance program after public outcry and widespread technical issues"

Correct title should be:

"NSA quietly stops controversial mass phone surveillance program after public outcry BECAUSE OF widespread technical issues"

There. If fixed that for you.
 

p51d007

Posts: 2,685   +2,023
The NSA might not be doing it, but, you can almost bet the CIA is still doing it.
I still think it would be funny to call the CIA and say "hey, I lost a REALLY important email.
Could you send me a backup copy from your servers?"
 

loki1944

Posts: 527   +360
The NSA might not be doing it, but, you can almost bet the CIA is still doing it.
I still think it would be funny to call the CIA and say "hey, I lost a REALLY important email.
Could you send me a backup copy from your servers?"

Did that work for Hillary?
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,388   +3,469
Everybody: We want less surveillance!

also everybody: I can't let my child out of my sight for 2 seconds. I don't want him to hurt himself.

I live a boring life. If some heavy-breathing person listening to my boring phonecalls means that same person gets to overhear and stop terrorists, please do. People demand safety but they also demand privacy. It's like hiring a blind body guard.
People who would give up privacy to gain security deserve neither.

Does it concern you that the government could, very easily, move past using this tech to catch "terrorists" and instead look for "dissenters"? Its not like governments have a long recorded history of abusing their power in every way conceivable, and the people that support them are often the first targeted (see soviet union).

It should concern you. The Steele dossier that spawned the witchhunt against the US president was created by an ex government worker that wouldnt stop sperging about orange man bad. Now imagine if, say, you had voted for trump, and someone like that ex worker in the NSA's new UTAH facility was listening to your conversations, and could find something you said to ruin your life with. Far left democrats are already ruining the lives of people they consider "impure" whom dont toe the party line. Or what if you support a democrat president, and someone in that same facility is a trumper with an anger management problem, and something you say sends him off of the hook? He would know everything about you, where you live, where you go, your location data, everything.

Governments, and their minions, abuse power ALL the time. Every scrap of data you give them can be used against you, and after seeing what china is doing, what happened in the soviet union, hell what has happened in the US in the past, you should absolutely be concerned over how much data the government collects on you, because all it takes is 1 bad apple in one of these collection centers to ruin the lives of a lot of people over petty differences.
 
Last edited:

OutlawCecil

Posts: 739   +570
People who would give up privacy to gain security deserve neither.

Does it concern you that the government could, very easily, move past using this tech to catch "terrorists" and instead look for "dissenters"? Its not like governments have a long recorded history of abusing their power in every way conceivable, and the people that support them are often the first targeted (see soviet union).

It should concern you. The Steele dossier that spawned the witchhunt against the US president was created by an ex government worker that wouldnt stop sperging about orange man bad. Now imagine if, say, you had voted for trump, and someone like that ex worker in the NSA's new UTAH facility was listening to your conversations, and could find something you said to ruin your life with. Far left democrats are already ruining the lives of people they consider "impure" whom dont toe the party line. Or what if you support a democrat president, and someone in that same facility is a trumper with an anger management problem, and something you say sends him off of the hook? He would know everything about you, where you live, where you go, your location data, everything.

Governments, and their minions, abuse power ALL the time. Every scrap of data you give them can be used against you, and after seeing what china is doing, what happened in the soviet union, hell what has happened in the US in the past, you should absolutely be concerned over how much data the government collects on you, because all it takes is 1 bad apple in one of these collection centers to ruin the lives of a lot of people over petty differences.
Again, every scenario you pointed out involved people of power or influence. For everyday Americans it's a non-issue.

You also make it sound like this monitoring of our lives can be used by just anyone. Obviously it should be (and is/was) kept specifically to trained departments and strict rules are given on what information should be collected and how it's used. This should remain unchanged. If somebody's caught stalking somebody, yeah fire them. If somebody looks into information unrelated to the current job, yeah fire them. There's lots of occupations out there that give people tons of access to information but track what information they look into for them to explain later. It's not hard to regulate this. The healthcare business is like this now. There's huge databases and certain departments can look up health information for literally anybody in the database. A log is created and questions are asked if it's flagged as something they probably didn't need to look up.

In the end, yes, I'd gladly give up complete privacy for more security if those monitoring everything are kept to high standards and checks and balances are kept in place as they should be. We need to focus more on these standards than fighting for blindness in those who keep us safe.
 

erickmendes

Posts: 619   +273
It started back in 2001... It's objective is outdated. Most conversations happens over IM apps, even voice ones. They don't need it anymore. They can get much more data from social networks, e-mails, browsing tracking and Im apps...