Friday, June 07, 2013

The government is almost certainly recording your phone calls

How do I know?  By listening to what the president says (and more importantly, what he isn't saying), and doing some simple math.

President Obama said today:
"When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls. That's not what this program is about. ... What the intelligence community is doing is looking at phone numbers, and durations of calls; they are not looking at people's names and they're not looking at content. ... If the intelligence committee actually wants to listen to a phone call they have to go back to a federal judge, just like they would in a criminal investigation."
If you parse this carefully you will see that he doesn't actually deny that calls are being recorded.  All he says is that no one is listening to the recordings without "go[ing] back to a federal judge" (but, of course, we have to take his word for that).

The more compelling evidence that something beyond mere "phone numbers, and durations of calls" is being recorded is this.
The Utah Data Center, also known as the Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Data Center,[1] is adata storage facility for the United States Intelligence Community that is designed to store data on the scale of yottabytes (1 yottabyte = 1 trillion terabytes, or 1 quadrillion gigabytes)
What is all that storage for?  It can't possibly be merely for "phone numbers, and durations of calls".  A year's worth of call data for the entire country would easily fit on a single modern hard drive.  The only possible reason to have yottabytes of storage is to record content, and specifically to record voice content.  Email just doesn't take up that much space.  Think about it: a yottabyte is 10^24 bytes.  That's 10^14=100 terabytes for every human on the planet.  What could they possibly be storing that would take up that much space if not content?


Everythings Jake said...

Former FBI Counterterrorism Agent Tim Clemente suggests on CNN that all phone conversations are recorded and accessible:

And your post is a great catch of the way Obama uses language to mislead the public, or some, like me, might call it weasel speak.

Alexander Garden said...

Here is another article with several pieces of confirmatory evidence for this theory: