Just last night, the New York Times posted a very timely article about President Obama announcing a proposal to end mass data collection by the NSA, particularly as it applies to section 215 of the PATRIOT Act with mass collection of metadata received from phone companies.
Later, the article goes on to say, “The Obama administration proposal…would retain a judicial role in determining whether the standard of suspicion was met for a particular phone number before the N.S.A. could obtain associated records.” This seems to suggests that instead of the routine data collection currently performed by the NSA, under the new proposal, there would be a targeted data collection system. The NSA would have to provide evidence to some judicial body that there is a “standard of suspicion” before they would be able to obtain any phone call data on the suspicious party. This would probably make a lot of public feel relieved and maybe even less paranoid since you would, under this proposal, need to be a suspicious target to have your phone usage data obtained by the NSA. They would no longer be able to routinely collect all phone usage data.
The article also says, “The government has been unable to point to any thwarted terrorist attacks that would have been carried out if the program had not existed, but has argued that it is a useful tool,” which was one of the points made in class against the NSA’s collection of metadata being morally right. This seems to give some credibility to the claim that the NSA’s actions have been unnecessary and that time and money could have been better spent elsewhere.