Student Op-Eds

The NSA: Searching Through Mountains of Dirt

Chris Lasek ’15

On December 5 a new report in Fox News stated that the NSA collects an astounding five billion phone records, per day, for analysis. Alarmingly, details in these records include the location of the caller. The NSA claims this is to track individuals interacting with targeted suspects. The data collection is said to further inform the NSA of suspicious activity, particularly intelligence from foreign targets. With this data, trends in movement are built, allowing the NSA to view a group or cell’s interactions with other actors. Highlighted in the report is the fact that most of the data collected is not relevant to the NSA purposes. While there is no information on as to what extent this process is efficient, analyzing and collecting mainly useless information gives reason for constitutional concern.

The amount of data the NSA is collecting for “national security” purposes is astounding. There exists a constitutional right protecting against unreasonable search and seizure, and with the improvements in and blessings of technology, the boundary lines drawn by the founding fathers are becoming harder to see.  According to the news report, most of the data collected is not relevant to matters of national security, giving the impression the NSA’s procedures go against the constitution. Reform of these procedures should be enacted to bring about greater efficiency of data collection.

The method in which the information is collected should be questioned. Collecting a mountain of ‘dirt’ only to find a few pieces of gold is less efficient than collecting a smaller, more targeted heap of ‘dirt’. The latter method strikes me as a lot more efficient than the former and constitutionally compliant as well.