I have mentioned in my blog before the justification for NSA to collect, store, analyze large-scale data should not just be based on constitutionality or its ethics or even its outcome. The question people should ask and a government funded by people should certainly ask is — is this benefit worth the effort?
The headlines today read, “Obama calls for an end to NSA bulk data collection”. As is true with any headline, it only makes you want to read the whole article and doesn’t mean anything by itself.
Quickly I concluded that the administration was merely moving the responsibility of data collection and preservation to the phone companies. He shifted the focus from NSA to private companies without a least bit affecting the fact that data will continue to be collected to the same extent. The ethics have not changed, the legality has changed, the constitutionality has not changed — what has changed is just the technicality of it.
There is another aspect to it — the cost. Collecting and preserving data requires large spending. If it is done by NSA, the cost for it would be borne by taxpayers. If it is done by phone companies, the cost for it would still be borne by taxpayers (through additional charges). There are roughly 140 million taxpayers and there are perhaps more than 300 million cell phone lines alone.
Perhaps this is just a move to divert scrutiny from NSA and spread the expenses to another book, all while completely preserving the capabilities of NSA to what they have always been doing. And since the treasury money saved through scaled-back NSA programs are unlikely to result in reduced taxes, people are effectively paying net-extra.