Geof Stone, "The NSA's Telephone Meta-Data Program: Part II"
In my last post (The NSA's Telephone Meta-data Program: Part I) I explained the nature and operation of the NSA's bulk telephony meta-data program. In this post, I will examine the government's arguments for the meta-data program and the Review Group's analysis of those arguments.
In defending the bulk telephony meta-data program, the government offers essentially four arguments. First, it argues that the program is an important tool in the effort to keep our nation safe. Because the program enables the government to discover when a suspected terrorist is in contact with other possible terrorists inside the United States, it can provide critical data in the effort to "connect the dots." Indeed, the government argues, had the program been available in 2001, it might have enabled the government to prevent the terrorist attacks of September 11.
Second, the government argues that the collection and storage of bulk telephony metadata does not seriously intrude on individual privacy because individuals have voluntarily exposed their calling data to a third party -- that is, to their telephone service providers. As a general rule, the government argues, individuals have no reasonable expectation of privacy in information they voluntary expose to strangers.