Big Government's Data Plan

With the shocking revelation that the NSA is collecting all Verizon phone records under a secret court order, we can now begin to understand why that same agency is in need of the massive new data center in Utah. Fox News's Catherine Herridge broke the story this April about the construction of the NSA's huge "spy center," capable of amassing, housing, and analyzing five zettabytes of data.  (For context, according to Wikipedia, as of 2009, the entire World Wide Web was estimated to contain a half of one zettabyte.) Writing about the Verizon order at The Volokh Conspiracy, Orin Kerr noted a troubling aspect of a provision of the Patriot Act that has apparently been interpreted as allowing not just relevant individual records, but also entire databases to be collected as part of a national security investigation or threat assessment: Section 1861 says that the "things" that are collected must be relevant ...but it says nothing about the scope of the things obtained. When...(Read Full Post)

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