- "poor supervision and ineffective oversight, contributed to the serious abuses"
- "three FBI media leak investigations in which the FBI sought, and in two cases received, telephone toll billing records or calling activity information for telephone numbers assigned to reporters, without first obtaining required approval from the Attorney General"
- "serious lapses in training, supervision, and oversight led to the FBI and the Department issuing these requests for the reporters’ records without following legal requirements and their own policies"
- It does not catch terrorists. There is not a single instance where phone record metadata was used to identify, stop or prevent terrorist activities. This is clearly stated within a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) report, which recommended doing away with the bulk data collection.
- Terrorists and crooks don’t usually (if ever any more) communicate using the mainstream telecommunications businesses. Those who plot and plan attacks know that the bulk data of major telecommunications and Internet services are being collected and analyzed. The Dark Web, Deep Web, untraceable pre-paid cell phones and other means are used to communicate without being surveilled. Those wanting to continue the collection always say, “If we had only had that phone metadata in 2001 we may have been able to prevent this tragedy” and similar sentiments. Well stop for a minute and think.
- That is speculation that cannot be proven. The phone systems in 2001 were vastly different than the capabilities of today’s phone systems, and the ability to analyze huge amounts of data was not easily done, if even possible. So yes, it may have been possible to have accidentally captured some data that would have revealed something, but without the analytics capabilities it is likely that any phone communications that did occur would not have been caught.
- Technology today has evolved by light years since 2001. We have so many other ways that terrorists are known to use for communication in addition to those mentioned earlier that they basically avoid traditional cellphone services for their communications.
- It does not protect our safety. Richard Clarke, counterterrorism adviser to presidents Bush and Clinton, called Section 215 “badly drafted,” “unnecessary” and “unproductive”. Other security experts agree.
- Those writing the law say it wasn’t meant for such surveillance practices. Jim Sensenbrenner, who wrote the USA PATRIOT Act, has publicly stated multiple times that the bulk collection of communications records goes far beyond the intent of the law as written.
- A federal court has ruled that it is illegal. The PCLOB has also stated that it is illegal. It is worth repeating: It is illegal!
- Legal scholars and the PCLOB say it is unconstitutional. The Fourth Amendment was established to eliminate the widely used general warrants which officials at the time used to go into people’s homes and do searches whenever they wanted, in the name of security. The unlimited, unchecked use of collecting phone records is the modern-day, digital form of this past abuse that our founding fathers fought to eliminate three centuries ago.
- There are vast amounts of other, more helpful, data publicly available and proper legal channels already exist to obtain that data. So much other available data has actually caught criminals and terrorists that there is no justification for bulk collection of private phone records of all U.S. citizens. Many have been caught using information found publicly available online, and on non-protected social media sites. Others have been caught using the surveillance camera image feeds found in an ever growing number of public places. And others have been caught because of their activities viewed in person, and the types of items they were observed purchasing. If probable cause truly exists to access phone metadata, a warrant can still be obtained in support of the United States Constitution to properly secure any records necessary related to that probable cause.
- Large numbers of people may have access to the data collected. There are an estimated 100,000 NSA employees and contracted workers. I know from my experience, and audits show, that a percentage of workers will take information for inappropriate purposes. We know ex-NSA worker Edward Snowden released reams of sensitive information for public perusal. Think about how many of those other NSA workers with access to the data are doing bad things we don’t know about. Also, think about all those who make mistakes and improperly expose that data, or do bad things with the data because they didn’t know better because of lack of proper training…this happens all the time as demonstrated by all the breaches reported almost daily.
- It suppresses business. Bulk collection of private communication records allows pervasive privacy invasion on every US citizen and those they communicate with worldwide. Many businesses in other countries do not do business with U.S. based organizations because of the pervasive surveillance, stifling full growth potential for the U.S. economy.