According to the Annual Transparency report published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the National Security Agency collected more than 151 million call records of American citizens.
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The records — which are being collected since the 9/11 attacks — contain information like the phone numbers of both the caller and recipient, call duration and time of the call.
This comes in direct contradiction to the USA Freedom Act which was aimed at putting an end to mass or bulk surveillance by publishing surveillance record publicly — establishing transparency whenever people’s personal information is being collected.
The USA Freedom Act was passed on June 2, 2015, two years after Snowden revealed that mass surveillance was a thing and it was rampant.
“The same technologies that are being used to connect us, to tie us together, to let you listen to this right now, are also being used to make records about your activity,” Edward Snowden said during an interview with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
According to the document, NSA had only received warrants to collect information of 46 people suspected of having ties to terrorist organisations.
But the 151 million phone records sure tell a different story.
According to a report by Reuters, officials say that the 151 million call records collected are dwarfed by the size of records collected before 2013 — when Edward Snowden revealed the surveillance program to the world.
Justifying the 151 million phone records as compared to the 46 people they were authorised to put under surveillance, an NSA official told Reuters that this happened “Because the 151 million would include multiple calls made to or from the same phone numbers.”
Edward Snowden had also revealed in the same interview that the USA, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada have been spying on their citizens using webcams on their personal computers.
While security agencies are working hard to avert any danger to their nation, mass surveillance has its own ill-effects — like mutual distrust between citizens and the government.
Surveillance programmes like these need to be implemented and dealt with caution or else could lead to disastrous results — including angered citizens and privacy advocates.