The National Security Agency today acknowledged that it had for years violated privacy protections during searches of a database containing millions of people's phone records. Not to worry, though, because the breaches weren't malicious. They were simply a result of the fact that nobody at the NSA really knew what the fuck they were doing.
With more and more revelations about the NSA's information-gathering programs coming to light, Americans are nowadays being asked by some of our leaders to accept ubiquitous surveillance as a benign fact of life. But how comfortable are we supposed to be when not even the NSA understands the limits of its own projects?
This is from the Wall Street Journal (emphasis ours):
Officials said the violations were inadvertent, because NSA officials didn't understand their own phone-records collection program.
"There was nobody at the NSA who had a full understanding of how the program worked,'' said an intelligence official.
The violations happened between 2006 and 2009, when a judge finally forced the NSA to overhaul its phone-records program. In those three years, thousands of phone numbers were checked without necessary cause, as Bloomberg explains: "The agency on a daily basis improperly checked a select list of phone numbers against databases containing millions of call records, without meeting the necessary standard, according to documents released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to privacy groups today in response to lawsuits."
In June, NSA Director Keith Alexander attempted to quell fears about the phone-records spying by saying, "This is not a program where we are out freewheeling it. It is a well-overseen and a very focused program."
[Image via AP]