Maybe, just maybe they're operating under the idea that their "protected" systems shouldn't be involved in providing data/ services on a public network...
Many of you seem to be operating under the illusion that you can trust your computer. You can't. It won't always behave the way you expect, especially when it can communicate with a public network. Network communications is never "safe", at best it's "mostly safe."
That whole process of "without having to ...innovate myself" is called learning. It's not like I have a replicator and can just "copy" his spear, I have to "learn" the techniques he used before I can produce one on my own.
Also, if they actually don't have the capability to process all of their data... they can't actually talk about that in a public forum because that'd be revealing their internal techniques (which are classified).
The CIA, FBI and ordinary Law Enforcement aren't terribly keen about discussing their techniques in public either...
Okay, I remember reading (probably on Wired) that the NSA has an unusual definition of "intercept" when it came to domestic telephone calls... An "intercept" for them was going back and analyzing their recordings, not the actual "making" of the recording.
If, for instance, I merely record raw packet data on the network and do not interpret it... then I've "captured the firehose", but I don't know what I've got until I analyze it.
If I have the budget to "capture the firehose" for the entire US telephone network, but I only need to analyze 10-20K "intercepts" per year, then I probably wouldn't have the equipment or staff to evaluate the details of all the data I have.
If that's the situation, then I'd probably respond similarly to Wyden's request. In order to answer his questions I'd have to analyze ALL the data I have, which I don't have the resources or budget to do... and even if I did, it'd expose the details of all communications on the network... which would be an invasion of privacy.
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