As President Obama tries to calm of the fears of the American people through reforms to the National Security Agency, new reports allege the NSA is collecting almost 200 million text messages a day in ‘untargeted’ global data collection. The Guardian reports the NSA program known as DISHFIRE collects “pretty much everything it can, ” according to GCHQ documents, rather than merely storing the communications of existing surveillance targets.
“The lead story today is the NSA is collecting metadata and storing it. And the President is going to give a big speech today and say, ‘Don’t worry, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to make sure that it will never fall into the wrong hands,’” Glenn said on radio this morning. “Mr. President, you are the wrong hands. The NSA is the wrong hands. The FBI is the wrong hands. The government is the wrong hands.”
The Guardian reports on average each day the NSA was able to extract:
• More than 5 million missed-call alerts, for use in contact-chaining analysis (working out someone’s social network from who they contact and when)
• Details of 1.6 million border crossings a day, from network roaming alerts
• More than 110,000 names, from electronic business cards, which also included the ability to extract and save images
• Over 800,000 financial transactions, either through text-to-text payments or linking credit cards to phone users
Glenn couldn’t help but draw parallels between the NSA’s collection of metadata and the Weimar Republic. As he explained yesterday, the registration of guns in the Weimar Republic ultimately led to the confiscation of guns once Hitler rose to power. All of this was done, however, under the guise that the government was looking out for the best interest of the people.
“This is exactly what happened in the Weimar Republic,” Glenn said. “[The government said], ‘We need to just register all of the guns.’ And the Germans said, ‘We’re not going to register all the guns. What happens with that data?’ And they said, ‘Don’t worry. You just register all your guns, and we’ll make sure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands’… Little did they know, ‘falling into the wrong hands’ meant falling into the hands of the government because the government had a democracy change into Hitler. And then he took [that information], and they went door to door and rounded up all of the guns.”
In the case of the NSA, it’s not who’s holding the data that concerns Glenn, it’s the fact that the data is being held in the first place.
“I’m not concerned of who’s holding this had data. I don’t want anybody holding this data. I don’t want you collecting this data. It shows how clueless, how truly clueless this President is. He really doesn’t get it,” Glenn concluded. “I bet there won’t be a real outcry from Americans because Americans will say, ‘Well, okay, as long as they’re keeping it safe.’ Don’t you understand? To quote Washington: Government is like fire. If you control it, it will keep you warm. If it controls you, it burns everything down.”
Front page image courtesy of the AP