Analytics/Big Data

Obama Weighs In on NSA Data Collection

President Obama said Friday that he wants to end the NSA's bulk collection of the phone records of Americans.

"I believe we need a new approach," the president said in a wide-ranging speech Friday on national intelligence, after the revelations of mass meta-data collection by the National Security Agency.

"I am therefore ordering a transition that will end the Section 215 bulk meta-data program as it currently exists, and establish a mechanism that preserves the capabilities we need without the government holding this bulk meta-data," the president added.

Questions will now center around what rules going forward govern the government's access to this data from the phone companies. What do you think, readers: Will anything actually change with Obama weighing in?

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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Carol Wilson 1/17/2014 | 4:46:15 PM
Knee-jerk response I haven't read the entire speech - or listened to it - but it sure seems like the folks most angered by the NSA's privacy invasion have been very quick to say Obama isn't changing the substance of the snooping, just trying to make it look like he is. 

If they make the phone companies store the records versus the NSA, what's the big difference?
DanJones 1/17/2014 | 4:56:55 PM
Big (Brother) Data It's possible that there will be more steps that the NSA would have to go through to get authorized to get the data. I listened to the speech and some analysis and it still isn't a 100% clear to me.

Apparently lawmakers get their hands on this stuff in March anyway, so it could be all change (or not) soon anyway. 
Phil_Britt 1/17/2014 | 5:06:52 PM
Re: Big (Brother) Data Though I'm concerned about big brother government, I don't know that it has any more information on the general public that big brother Google.
mendyk 1/17/2014 | 5:15:51 PM
Re: Big (Brother) Data Or any other commercial enterprise diving into the big-data pool. I agree -- people should be more creeped out by private-sector monitoring than by Big Brother.
DanJones 1/17/2014 | 5:34:52 PM
Re: Big (Brother) Data Probably because the consquences of a govt mistake in reading and analyzing the collected data could potentially be more severe than a private company's mistake.

I agree its creepy though.

Time to think a digital bill of rights for both public and private data usage?
Carol Wilson 1/17/2014 | 6:21:32 PM
Re: Big (Brother) Data I like the idea of a general digital privacy policy so at least consumers know when they have - and when they don't have - an expectation of privacy. 

This week, I reserved a digital version of a new book on my public library's website and an hour later, an ad for that book showed up on my Facebook page. 

Of course it could have been sheer concidence but I doubt it. 
KBode 1/17/2014 | 6:26:17 PM
Re: Knee-jerk response "If they make the phone companies store the records versus the NSA, what's the big difference?"

Zero to little, really. It has already been revealed that the line between telco and intelligence has grown smaller and smaller by the day. Whether that's the live fiber taps AT&T allows at their head ends (revealed by Mark Klein), or their increasingly cooperative volunteering in terms of how to bypass surveillance and privacy law:


KBode 1/17/2014 | 6:28:42 PM
Re: Big (Brother) Data "Probably because the consquences of a govt mistake in reading and analyzing the collected data could potentially be more severe than a private company's mistake."

Not if you pass new laws or provisions further excluding telcos from liability, like they already did when it was revealed AT&T was dumping entire live fiber feed duplicates directly into the lap of the NSA.

Essentially a massive pile of wrongdoing was exposed by Mark Klein, so the government just changed the law to make it all perfectly legal. I see nothing stopping them from doing that again, surely with an added layer of compensation for AT&T, Verizon, and any other massive telecom company that wants to play intelligence pattycake.
Liz Greenberg 1/17/2014 | 11:31:31 PM
Re: Big (Brother) Data I think that everybody should be equally creeped out by all of them.  I am with @Carol when I see instant ads for things after I have either a) searched, b) bought or c) looked at an item.  If that isn't creeping folks out, then why are they worried about the government?
brookseven 1/18/2014 | 11:46:12 AM
Re: Big (Brother) Data So.  We are all here on a board/site that is dedicated to telecom and more recently with a significant wireless content.

What do you think happens if those ads you are complaining about go away?  You do realize that companies spend a BOATLOAD of money to have them served up to searchers/clickers/buyers of similiar items because of the behavior tracking right?

I understand the privacy angle, but I would guess that Internet investment would cut in 1/2 overnight if that goes away.  That is how free sites are paid for (like this one!).  Our fine journalists and hosting and bandwidth here have to have money coming from someplace.


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