Government Still Pretending That Letting Phone Companies Hold Mass Surveillance Data Would Improve Privacy
from the NSAT&T dept
"Obama administration officials have sought to preserve the collection of phone records in a way that raises fewer concerns about privacy. One way of doing that would have the phone companies retain the data, officials said. The NSA would then tell the companies when it needs searches of call records concerning specific phone numbers the agency believes are connected to terrorism. The companies would provide the results to the NSA."Except as we've discussed repeatedly, the line between intelligence operations and phone companies has been largely obliterated courtesy of AT&T and Verizon's patriotic enthusiasm to do whatever is asked of them -- and then much, much, more. AT&T, for example, has a proud history of not only letting the NSA tap completely into their network in real time, but they've historically even given advice on how best to bypass privacy and wiretap laws, at times even volunteering their time as intelligence analysts. Yes, letting AT&T manage the data when they're already indistinguishable from government sounds like a revolution in intelligence processing and privacy protection.
Before Snowden, when it was originally found that the telcos were illegally spying on countless Americans years back, the laws were simply changed -- which clearly worked out well for everyone involved. The biggest problem for the government making this shift to telcos playing an even bigger role in non-transparently spying on U.S. citizens? They're going to want even more legal protection and, inevitably, more taxpayer money:
"Several lawmakers have proposed legislation on Capitol Hill that would take this approach. But telecommunications companies oppose this option. Phone companies likely would demand liability protection and possibly other conditions to avoid outside demands for data—for instance, for run-of-the-mill legal cases such as divorce proceedings."Another option according to the Journal is to have the FBI hold on to that data. That's the same FBI, who with telco help has already been doing much of the NSA's spying anyway, and has its own long, proud tradition of ignoring the law whenever it suits them. While the government pretty clearly hopes the public takes these moves as a serious effort to protect privacy, effectively all we appear to be doing is shuffling a deck of dysfunction stocked with a litany of the same old rotten players.