NSA Bulk Phone Record Collection Nixed In Favor Of 'Scaled Back' Surveillance
While many of us were seeking out the hottest deals this weekend, the US government carried out the greatest reduction of its spying efforts since they were expanded-upon following the attacks of Sept 11, 2001. Adhering to a law passed some six months ago, the National Security Agency is no long allowed to blindly pull down phone records of millions of Americans, a move that's being considered a major win by privacy advocates.
Effective immediately, if the NSA wants to gather phone data on a target, it must get a court order and work with phone carriers to enable monitoring, and only for up to six months.
This change comes two weeks after Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) struck Paris in a terrorist attack, leading some to believe that this mass surveillance should have been expanded, not reduced or limited. However, WSJ reported late last week that these particular attacks were pulled off with no obfuscation of any kind. Instead, real names were used, as well as normal communications methods. Some consider this to be a clear sign that mass surveillance either isn't the answer, or needs to be handled a different way to better detect potential attacks and future threats of new and varying types.
Further proof of the lack of success from this program comes from the presidential review committee, which notes that for as long as this mass phone surveillance went on, there failed to be a single clear-cut instance where it was proven to thwart an act of terrorism.
In the future, the reduction in mass surveillance change could be challenged again in the courts, but it's highly unlikely that we'll see much action on it until after the 2016 US presidential elections conclude.