Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ending bulk collection

President Obama is cancelling the NSA's bulk collection of US phone records:

Barack Obama confirmed on Tuesday that the US plans to end the National Security Agency's systematic collection of Americans’ telephone records, as leaders of a key committee in Congress insisted they were close to a deal with the White House to revamp the surveillance program.

Under plans to be put forward by the Obama administration in the next few days, the NSA would end the so-called bulk collection of telephone records, and instead would be required to seek a new kind of court order to search data held by telecommunications companies.

Good. At the same time, the devil is going to be in the details. How much data will phone companies retain? How easy will those court orders be to get? And how much information will be disclosed? On the latter point, they're talking about "two hops" - that is, everyone who has every called anyone who has called a person of interest. That's a massive, unjustified invasion of privacy. Its also worth noting that this only protects Americans, and only to phone records - the NSA's invasion of foreign phone networks, its global tracking of cellphones, its bulk-harvesting of email and internet traffic will continue unabated. The only way that will stop is if we vote out the spies, and shut the NSA and its "partners" down.