Privacy

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
keith alexander, nsa, privacy, surveillance



Keith Alexander's Big Idea: What If The NSA Just Collected Phone Data On Suspected Terrorists?

from the this-option-just-came-to-you? dept

In what may be NSA boss Keith Alexander's final appearance before Congress before retiring in a few weeks, he appeared to (for the first time publicly) acknowledge that perhaps they don't need to track everyone and could, instead, try just watching the phone records of suspected terrorists. He acts as if this is a brand new idea. Seriously:
One option that Alexander called feasible involves sharing what amounts to a watch list of suspected terrorists’ phone numbers with phone companies. The companies would search for links to other numbers, returning that data to the government.

He said if the government could work out a system in which it could share those “terrorist selectors” in a classified manner, “it sets the case in precedent” for sharing classified threat data with industry for cybersecurity purposes.
Of course, as others have pointed out, you don't need "a precedent" for that -- we have it already. It's called a pen register and has been widely used by law enforcement for a decade, and there's a whole law discussing how it can be used.

Alexander said that there were "pros and cons" to that particular approach, but that's a pretty big shift from the man whose mantra has long been "collect it all." Also, all this may not matter at all since Alexander is about to be out of the job -- so perhaps it's just in his final moments as NSA boss that he finally admits what plenty of people have been saying all along: there's simply no justifiable explanation for the NSA collecting information on just about everyone.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Feb 2014 @ 11:58am

    Re:

    It's almost as novel of a concept as Clapper's idea to actually tell the public about the plans to violate their privacy to see if the people will ok it before actually doing it.

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