Privacy Security

You Can’t Make This Up

The father of the Patriot Act is very concerned about the NSA maintaining a record of phone calls, which is why he authored and introduced the Patriot Act. Or something.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who wrote and introduced the PATRIOT Act to Congress in 2001, said in a statement Thursday that the National Security Agency overstepped its bounds by issuing a secret order to collect phone log records from millions of Americans.

“As the author of the Patriot Act, I am extremely troubled by the FBI’s interpretation of this legislation,” he said in a statement. “While I believe the Patriot Act appropriately balanced national security concerns and civil rights, I have always worried about potential abuses.

By golly, he was so worried about potential abuse he wrote the fucker himself.


As has already been confirmed by several members of the House and Senate, Congress has been aware of the NSA’s records-keeping practices since their conception over seven years ago. And Sensenbrenner of all people must be fully aware of the NSA’s capabilities and their mandate.

For me personally, this story is a nothingburger. Because as someone who uses Twitter, Instagram, and all of Google’s various services synced across a wide range of devices, I understand that privacy is an illusion. And from my understanding, the NSA does not keep a record of conversations, names, addresses, or financial information in conjunction with it’s record of phone calls. Google, on the other hand, has a record of each of those things. My local pizza delivery service may have more compromising information on me than the NSA does.

And the NSA is not the only entity keeping records on you. In fact, your mobile carrier keeps far more detailed information on you than the NSA does, and your mobile carrier is selling that information for a healthy profit.

Phone companies already collect data on user location, as well as Web surfing and application use, to adjust their networks to handle traffic better. Two carriers, Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp. (S), are just starting to make the data available to third-party companies in hopes of booking millions in sales. Worldwide, revenue from selling mobile-user behavior data may reach $9.6 billion in 2016, up from $5.5 billion last year, Walldorf, Germany-based SAP (SAP) estimated. [...]

Phone companies are piling up data at a rate of one to two terabytes a day for every 20 million to 30 million wireless customers, according to SAP.

If you’re worried about privacy between you and those that provide services to you, or those who provide for your security, you may want to consider becoming a monk.

The kind of privacy that really matters – privacy between you and your neighbors or you and your loved ones — is something you alone have control over.

If Congress has the will to end these practices, they can be my guest, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it if they don’t.

For a detailed explanation of how the NSA’s record-keeping process works in tandem with FISA and the Patriot Act, read more here.

  • mrbrink

    I can take the outrage from certain liberals, but I will NOT, no way/no how– take this shit from James fucking Sensenbrenner. This is the guy who, as the House Judiciary Committee Chairman at the time the Patriot Act was up for reauthorization almost 8 years ago to the fucking date– shut down the hearings while Republicans turned the lights off on Democrats who were still calling witnesses and recording public testimony. He took his gavel home with him.

    No way. Not this fucking guy.

  • missliberties

    Exactly bob. Privacy is an illusion. Anything you post on the tubes, or any time you use your phone it is availabe if someone tries hard enough to find it.

    You can be fired for what you post on Facebook.

    This is not a new breaking news story for gawds sake. Do you love how Drudge HuffPo National Enquirere turned Obama into Bush? Gawd that place reeks of desperation for clicks.

    Is Howard Fineman best friends with Glenn Greenwald?

    • blackdaug

      Gawd that Huffpo thing really pisses me off…
      Their comments section has become unreadable…they jump on every nothing burger of the week with both feet….and now that stupid horrible main page header. TED and sideboob….what an insipid waste of server space that thing has become……

  • D_C_Wilson

    Congress has been aware of the NSA’s records-keeping practices since their conception over seven years ago.

    Yeah, but seven years ago, these powers weren’t given to a black man, so you can see how it’s totally different now.

    • Victor_the_Crab

      And a Democrat to boot. That, right there, is why Sensenbrenner is pooping his big boy pants in concern.

  • muselet

    Charlie Pierce on Jim Sensenbrenner’s statement, especially the big ol’ crocodile tears about FBI overreach:

    See also: “Fk, Oh For The Love Of,” That horse left the barn in 2002. Jim Sensenbrenner’s the one who took the hinges off the barn door.


  • Draxiar

    Didn’t Sensenbrenner work for the Department of Icanyoucannot?

  • trgahan

    I agree. It is ridiculous that the NSA doing what we told the NSA to do is “outrageous” and “concerning” but private corporations collecting even larger amounts of more indepth data and profiting from it…meh.

    I know it is just the GOP trying to find a way to get that national security crown back after Bush fumbled it and Obama took away. But the hoopla around this issue another example of why we can’t have nice things.

  • i_a_c

    Not a nothingburger, but not surprising, either. Americans wanted to be kept safe from the terrorists, and this is what they got. If they’re not pleased with this outcome, then they can pressure Congress to stop reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act which makes all of this legal. If the leak of this FISA Court order finally produces the political pressure necessary to repeal that odious law or let it sunset, let’s get on it, but Americans have been all too willing to give up their privacy in exchange for security, so I don’t have high hopes.