AT&T, Verizon Could Be Tasked With Holding NSA Data
A report in the Wall Street Journal
indicates that the Obama administration is contemplating several "new" options when it comes to storing bulk surveillance data. The options were presented to the White House as part of the government's somewhat-cosmetic reforms proposed back in January
. One of the big pushes being considered is taking data storage away from the NSA -- and putting that job directly into the hands of the phone companies themselves:
One way of doing that would have the phone companies retain the data, officials said. The NSA would then tell the companies when it needs searches of call records concerning specific phone numbers the agency believes are connected to terrorism. The companies would provide the results to the NSA...But telecommunications companies oppose this option. Phone companies likely would demand liability protection and possibly other conditions to avoid outside demands for data—for instance, for run-of-the-mill legal cases such as divorce proceedings.
It seems that phone companies will only approve this option if they're given additional legal protections, and very likely more taxpayer money. It's not entirely clear this change would be much different. We already know telcos host NSA hardware
allowing for real-time monitoring, and AT&T has even gone so far as to give government advice on how to best bypass wiretap and privacy law
One of the bigger reasons for shuffling the deck chairs on the surveillance Titanic, is that during the shake up the Obama Administration is expected to push for expanding the amount of time the data can be stored. As such, they're really just shuffling the deck a little bit then claiming it will result in improved privacy for those being spied upon -- a declaration that will ultimately be unproveable until the next whistle blower comes along.