The hugely controversial NSA bulk surveillance of Americans’ phone records came to a “end” today, with the six month “winding down” period of the USA Freedom Act finally coming to a close. There wasn’t much fanfare, however, because the shutting down of the program is largely a distinction without a difference.
That’s because back in early June Congress chose the weakest, most watered-down reform bill on offer, one which replaced the existing, privacy-violating meta-data scheme with an entirely new, only marginally different privacy-violating meta-data scheme.
Under the old system, an NSA computer was keeping track of all these phone records, allowing NSA agents to look them up. Under the new system, the phone companies are to keep the records instead, and provide the NSA with the access per secret court orders.
The phone companies never made it clear how much change this would actually involve, and since the FISA courts are overseeing it in both cases, and are notoriously willing to approve literally anything the NSA wants to do, the bottom line answer for what has changed will have to be “not much.”
One thought on “NSA Bulk Phone Surveillance ‘Shuts Down’; To Be Replaced by Near-Identical Scheme”
More hucksterism from the country that made huckstering respectable. The only way the NSA surveillance ends is when the infrastructure — IT, budget and personnel — is completely dismantled. They're clever to change the script occasionally, as in this case, because Americans are so gullible. The clear lesson to be learned is this: As long as the NSA has bureaucrats drawing salaries, the authority to suborn commerce to create cheats for its surveillance software and a budget to buy and maintain enormous server farms, it will continue its Orwellian system.
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