It cost taxpayers $100 million and was reported to produce a mass amount of redundant information, revealing information that the FBI didn’t already know only twice, resulting in only one investigation which led to no charges. This according to a government watchdog group which briefed Congress last week on the matter, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB).
NSA headquarters, file photo.
The NSA can still gather phone logs on Americans through other means of course, relying on other invasive programs, likely some of which still remain unknown and highly classified.
The low success rate and high cost support the NSA’s decision to shut off the program in 2019. Politicians must now decide whether to allow the expiration of the legislation that makes the program possible. The USA Freedom Act of 2015 expires on March 15.
The Trump administration is reportedly seeking to extend the life of the program, in order to provide the government’s top signals intelligence spy agency with a future option to initiate the program if deemed necessary.
Important new report on the NSA program that gathered on the order of a trillion US phone records. https://t.co/5frRQoeTOO
— Barton Gellman (@bartongellman) February 25, 2020
The report in The Independent further said “The 2015 Act shifted responsibility for data collection from the government to telecommunications companies.”
The end result of this practice, alarmingly, was that “In some cases they would send the agency more data than they were legally allowed to collect.”