NSA to Scrap Phone Metadata Collection: Agency Swamped With Useless Data

-edited

6 months ago, the NSA quietly stopped looking at all the phone data it was collecting. It became a logistical nightmare.

“Candle is Not Worth the Flame"

Please consider NSA Recommends Dropping Phone-Surveillance Program.

The National Security Agency has recommended that the White House abandon a surveillance program that collects information about U.S. phone calls and text messages, saying the logistical and legal burdens of keeping it outweigh its intelligence benefits, according to people familiar with the matter.

The surveillance program began clandestinely—and, at first, without court approval—under the George W. Bush administration in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The NSA operation has sought to collect the metadata of all domestic calls in the U.S. in order to hunt for links among potential associates of terrorism suspects. Metadata include the numbers and time stamps of a call or text message but not the contents of the conversation.

Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden leaked the existence of the program—along with a tranche of documents exposing other surveillance operations carried out by the NSA—to journalists nearly six years ago. The disclosures ignited an international uproar over the scope of America’s electronic-spying capabilities.

“The candle is not worth the flame,” one former senior intelligence official said about the phone-records program.

Snowden a Hero

I consider Edward Snowden a hero for disclosing the depth and illegalities of all this collection to the world.

Recall that the NSA had even tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone.

Big Zero

The NSA defended the data collection as vital.

Many of us laughed at the assertion. I wondered how long it would take for the agency to become so swamped with useless data that it stopped looking at it.

Today, we have the answer.

And the total scorecard for this wasteful, intrusive, and illegal effort has been a big zero. Actually, the program had negative benefits. The time, energy, and money could have been spent on more productive ideas.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (48)
No. 1-24
tz1
tz1

NSA Never MetaData it didn't like. But why bother collecting it when everyone voluntarily gives all their personal data to Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg and Google when they click I Agree to the dozens of pages terms and conditions.

Particularly Facebook - We'll download your contacts, continually track your position, read your email and texts, listen in including to all your phone calls and read your call logs, save the photo metadata...

Bam_Man
Bam_Man

I had a funny feeling all along that the incompetent maroons working for the guvamint wouldn't have the foggiest idea what to do with all that data.

stillCJ
stillCJ

Editor

Nice that NSA is quitting the illegal program, even if it is for the wrong reason. When will Clapper be held responsible for lying to congress about it? People are in jail for similar but much less serious crimes. Obviously the Deep State protects it's own, just like corrupt Illinois politicians protect themselves.

Sechel
Sechel

Thanks I needed a laugh. Doesn't mean the program ever should have been allowed. The libertarian in me always thought it was wrong. One of the few things that Rand Paul got right

Stuki
Stuki

They're still collecting. With the infrastructure already built and in place, there's no reason why they wouldn't. Even without collecting, backbone providers still have to give them access to their infrastructure, since part of their charter is to help protect and coordinate critical communications infrastructure against / during attacks.

By officially no longer collecting the data, they avoid having to respond to whichever privileged idiot, thinks he is entitled to ask about it. And, by appearing less out of control, they're in a better position to recruit the kind of competent people they need to make sense of large, heterogeneous data sets.

For all the bad press and their horrible reputation, the NSA is, as far as Big Government goes, not really all that bad. They are very much aware that they need to be seen as "not evil," or they can't recruit the kind of pointy end of the spear brainiacs they need to do what they do. And, they're really only chartered to involve themselves in pretty substantial direct threats to the US. Of course, Newspeak being the language of the land, we're not far from trial lawyers demanding access to data collected for the purpose of providing heads up about imminent nuclear attacks, so they can enrich themselves by sueing people who "threaten national security" by burping sodabubbles; and similarly fashionable drivel.

Ebowalker
Ebowalker

I always envisioned it as more of an extortion scheme. "Hey John Roberts, if you vote to kill Obamacare we might accidentally leak that you are cheating on your wife and doing drugs off strippers" that sort of thing.

Sechel
Sechel

i remember when Snowden broke this story and the debate about the value of NSA spying and meta-data was being had. Critics, I believe Rand Paul , posed the question about what threats were stopped that could not have been stopped with traditional surveillance and a judge's warrant. There was a great deal of stonewalling but its clear now that critics were right. We did not need NSA spying on Americans keeping our meta-data and given the civil liberty issues good riddance.

ksdude
ksdude

But no layoffs, right?

Thalamus
Thalamus

A play on words. They may not scan it or look at it, but they surely still collect it. The spy agencies are from the devil and lying is their native language.

Greggg
Greggg

Today, we have their answer. Some day soon, we will find out that "getting rid of it mean means selling the data to Mark Zuckerberg. Well, they will get rid of it. Never let a crisis go to waste. Isn't that how it works here in the Western Nations?

Aaaal
Aaaal

In all likelihood they have a better method of collecting & sorting this data so they can jettison the old program. Either that or Isrealhell is now doing the gruntwork.

Menaquinone
Menaquinone

Did NSA warn Hillary that Putin was reading her email?

Six000mileyear
Six000mileyear

Looks like robocalling has a silver lining. ;o)

Maximus_Minimus
Maximus_Minimus

I can feel for the poor chaps; reading the stuff that people produce when they open their mind on the internet must be painful. Leave it to the associates at the Zuckerface agency.

Snow_Dog
Snow_Dog

Putin e-mailed the NSA and told them the Tsarnaev brothers were training at jihadist camps in Uzbekistan.

For their part, the NSA ran it past Hillary and she poo-pooed the whole thing as nonsense.

thimk
thimk

this is just a token gesture. the deep state is still well funded. this meme for "national defense" is getting old . If the US has made this many adversaries , well time for a new plan.

Sechel
Sechel

Program never had any value, yet encroached on our civil liberties. No terrorist actions were ever shown to have been uncovered from the NSA program that couldn't have been identified by traditional law enforcement and the use of a warrant.

jaizh
jaizh

If you believe the govt quit collecting metadata I have a bridge you will buy from me located on prime real estate in NYC.

RonJ
RonJ

NSA Alum William Binney said we have a turnkey totalitarian state. Despite Binney's VIPS team determining that the DNC was a leak, not a hack, we are still being told otherwise, supposedly even in the Mueller report.

Even if the generals recommendation is followed, a future president can repackage and restart it at some point in the future, for a different purpose.

Dsgn
Dsgn

Other Hopium floating around suggests - yeah, hopes for - all the politician builders and supporters of the criminal Total Blackmail State ... got caught up in their own dragnet. The tyranny they built being used against them - horrors! "They never thought she'd lose."

Some portion of the genpop is hoping that the rule of law is not dead and that there will be trials and nooses. With the NSA providing evidence against their own.

And, remember the first thing the KGB and the STASI did when their empire fell?

Sechel
Sechel

welcome to technology. the Trump Russia probe highlighted the futility. The Trump people were using aps that encrypt and fail to record conversations. The technology is out there

awc13
awc13

their giving it up because they have something better

Quatloo
Quatloo

This doesn't at all mean mass surveillance will stop. An example from today's news: www.courthousenews.com/judge-kills-lawsuit-over-mass-surveillance-programs/

shred1
shred1

So we're supposed to believe the NSA now? Nope.