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

NSAEFFAll 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:

The 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 report 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 investigation.

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.

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  • Pro Libertate||

    Ah, that's a confession. When do the arrests begin?

  • sarcasmic||

    Secret g Government is always the chief threat to liberty.


  • Almanian!||

    Ah, well it's all good then. I feel better.

  • Freedom Frog||

    30% too much.

  • John||

    The 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.

    Isn't that an admission that the program is useless? What good is listening to some random 30% sample of communications?

  • ULOST||

    So the NSA can demand a bigger budget. It is out-gunned in the war. You remember 9-11.

  • NSA Corey||

    30% of the time it works 80% of the time.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    But once telecoms kick in their own storage space, the sky's the limit.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Number Six: Where am I?
    Number Two: In the Village.
    Number Six: What do you want?
    Number Two: Information.
    Number Six: Whose side are you on?
    Number Two: That would be telling. We want information. . .information. . .information.
    Number Six: You won't get it.
    Number Two: By hook or by crook, we will.

  • The Last American Hero||

    cue the Iron Maiden!

  • The Last American Hero||

    I am not a number, I am a free man!


    Cue up the Iron Maiden!

  • ULOST||

    Make it The Trooper.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Here, NSA, see if you can get the gist of my remarks by looking only at about a third of what I say:

    [bleep] you, [bleep], I'll [bleep] [bleep] your [bleep] [bleep] shove [bleep] [bleep] your [bleep] [bleep] [bleep] [bleep] sheepfucker.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Somewhat OT but the comments are funny:
    How much an iPhone would cost in 1991.

    I think this author understands more than most people in government about economics.

  • Raston Bot||

    I like how he transitioned into education innovation.

  • Paul.||

    The 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.

    So, I'm tryin' Ringo... I'm tryin' real hard to keep up with all of what's actually happening vs. what the NSA says is happening, etc. If the NSA claims it only cares about suspected terrorists, does this mean that the NSA suspects that 30% of Americans are terrorists at any given time?

  • ||

    So they need all the information to protect us, but we shouldn't worry that they're spying on us because they can only snoop on 30% of our conversations. So not only are they unable to protect us with this by their own metric, they need to to spy on us with 100% of our conversations in order to actually protect us. Which would be spying on us.

    My head hurts.

  • Pro Libertate||

    You need to repoliticize your variables.

  • Surly Chef||

    Don't worry Epi, there are so many phone records to go through they can't possibly be actually looking at you. I've heard that rational from my old chef and in that moment I realized her to be a boot sucking authority fetishist.

    When I replied so, if it's only useful because of outside intel, whats the point other than to store up against political enemies?

    She blinked at me.

    We don't talk about politics at my new job.

  • Raston Bot||

    her to be a boot sucking authority fetishist

    I want to party with her.

  • ULOST||

    Why would anyone believe what the government says on this topic. The same government that allowed the propaganda law to expire. Oh, the poor NSA needs more super computers to keep up.

  • AmericanPrivacy||

    This is a watershed moment for our freedom to live our lives and the privacy to be who we are. With NSA surveillance programs, the US Government now has the power to arbitrarily track, target, and go after any one of us -- our friends, family, the journalists and activists we depend on -- because they don't like our ideas. In a world without privacy, anything you've written, done, or seen can be used against you, making your life a nightmare. Spying IS censorship. Now that we know, WE decide what happens next.
    Your search for online privacy is over...

  • crazydaisy||


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