The DEA Just Ended A Secret 15-Year Phone Call Spying Program


"The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has halted a secret, nearly 15-year program that collected virtually all data on international calls between the United States and certain countries, according to documents and officials familiar with the matter.
The sweeping bulk DEA database program was stopped in September 2013"

John Shiffman, Reuters

Please note; the program began in 1998, long before the 9/11 hysteria when Arab terrorists were little more than the baddies in action C-movies.

The quantity of such revelations supports the thesis that the reason for the mass surveillance is not terrorism or some specific threat; it's a systemic issue. The explanation for this should be searched and I think can be found in more general theories about bureaucracies such as Niskanen's bureaucrat, Principal-Agent model etc. or in psychology. It sure seems to be a global and persistent pattern. I don't think that this or that institution is evil or rotten while others are better: I believe the "better" ones are either better at hiding what they do or they have simply been given less resources and/or freedom of action.

Rules and supervision schemes can be devised to limit excesses and to discourage championing of excesses, but first the public needs to consider the issue worthy of its attention and worthy of outrage, or there won't be robust, lasting improvements.
Sadly, the public and especially so the "published opinion" tend to waste attention on irrelevant or marginally relevant topics and give more serious problems and troublemakers a free pass this way.


1 comment:

  1. Sven,

    DEA - which are my letters. A program that was not quite as intrusive as one might think.