The indiscriminate surveillance by the National Security Agency has called a good deal of attention from the White House. Last week, President Obama vowed to improve the NSA’s surveillance tactics by making them more transparent.
In a meeting with top tech executives last week, he agreed to introduce self-restraint measures for the NSA.
One of the proposed measures included taking a phone’s Meta data off the NSA radar and assigning that responsibility to phone carriers.
[Read our article ‘Reform NSA or Risk a Hostile Web – Tech Companies Warn Obama’]
But that’s even worse. Privacy advocates view storage of phone record as more threatening in corporate hands than one in state hands, such as the NSA.
In fact, any third party storage like this one is an unacceptable alternative to NSA phone database. It is reported that privacy advocates have also turned down such legislations in a private meeting held at the White House.
The surveillance review group appointed by the president was of the view that NSA’s bulk storage had to be halted altogether.
What Phone Companies Think?
The phone carriers are also skeptical of any move requiring them to keep call logs of their customers.
It is feared that contracting NSA for the surveillance task would send them into a vicious circle of faulty litigation, prosecution and requests from federal agents and attorneys.
It would be a real pain for no good reason. In other words, telecom companies will have an unprecedented surge in litigation and privacy risks, besides incurring millions of dollars in expenditures to honor the task.
The icing on the cake would be the lost brand equity by these telecom providers!
Even if paid by the government, phone companies run the risk of being soft targets for hackers. In any way, this would lead to a win-lose situation between the government and the telecom companies.
[Read our post Would Obama Administration Restrain NSA?]
Proposals of the surveillance review group appointed by President Obama appear to trouble phone carriers in a great way. It would ignite a new wave of privacy issues which could be as dangerous as the notorious NSA program itself.
Instead of contracting phone companies to act as ‘proxies’ for the NSA, the government should look for more objective measures of surveillance – if at all they are required.
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