Now this is interesting:
As an aside during testimony on Capitol Hill today, a National Security Agency representative rather casually indicated that the government looks at data from a universe of far, far more people than previously indicated.
Chris Inglis, the agency’s deputy director, was one of several government representatives—including from the FBI and the office of the Director of National Intelligence—testifying before the House Judiciary Committee this morning. Most of the testimony largely echoed previous testimony by the agencies on the topic of the government’s surveillance, including a retread of the same offered examples for how the Patriot Act and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act had stopped terror events.
But Inglis’ statement was new. Analysts look “two or three hops” from terror suspects when evaluating terror activity, Inglis revealed. Previously, the limit of how surveillance was extended had been described as two hops. This meant that if the NSA were following a phone metadata or web trail from a terror suspect, it could also look at the calls from the people that suspect has spoken with—one hop. And then, the calls that second person had also spoken with—two hops. Terror suspect to person two to person three. Two hops. And now: A third hop.
So we were initially told that the NSA were looking at the suspected terrorist (A), the person whom that guy communicates with (B), and all the people B communicates with (C) but now we find out that they are also looking at everyone C communicates with.
That’s some pretty big news since studies have shown everyone is connected to someone else by an average of 4.74 hops.
So lets say you’re the suspect and you have 100 friends:
100 ^ 3 = 1,000,000. Even taking your 75% overlap that’s 100 * 25 * (25 * .25) = 15,625 people. Per terrorist.
That’s a massive amount of people that are being swept into the investigation
One senior member of the panel, congressman James Sensenbrenner, the author of the 2001 Patriot Act, warned the officials that unless they rein in the scope of their surveillance on Americans’ phone records, “There are not the votes in the House of Representatives” to renew the provision after its 2015 expiration.
“You’re going to lose it entirely,” Sensenbrenner said.
Inglis and deputy attorney general James Cole repeatedly argued that the NSA’s surveillance was limited because it only searches through its databases of phone records when it has a “reasonable, articulable suspicion” of a connection to terrorism.
But several members of the committee, of both parties, said they were concerned not merely about the analysis of the phone records but about NSA’s collection of millions of Americans’ phone data in the first place, without an individual suspicion of connections to terrorism.
“The statute says ‘collection’,” congressman Jerrold Nadler told Cole. “You’re trying to confuse us by talking use.”
Congressman Ted Poe, a judge, said: “I hope as we move forward as a Congress we rein in the idea that it’s OK to bruise the spirit of the constitution in the name of national security.”
I fully understand two hops…but three? Not sure I see the need for that.