The article reveals an interesting side of NSA and helps explain the start of what I would call a Spying Empire.
The only reason the NSA kept recycling is it is an effective tool to fight against terrorism, and the logic behind that is extremely fallacious. According to the article, The logic that the NSA uses to advocate its action is “that if today’s surveillance programs existed before 9/11, it might have been able to stop those attacks.” which is unreasonable because as we have mentioned in the previous discussions, the biggest challenge for human in the past was not the data itself, but the technologies available back then to analyze them.
The technologies in 2009 could not timely analyzed the information the amount of information NSA has collected today, and thus, their system might get overload and malfunction or they would pass the needed information to prevent terrorism. Thus, data is not enough but it also requires technologies, and if NSA argues about bringing back today’s technologies to 2009, they might as well bring today’s weapons back to prevent world war II and save over 60 million lives of human, or vaccines back to prevent various plagues and save hundreds of million lives. Hence, arguing about what you could do in the history with today’s technologies is an invalid cliche. If the NSA want to the right to use our information, it better proves to the society, with explicit examples, the benefit we gain, not just a sole sentence about terrorism fighting.
Hence, if terrorism is not the NSA’s first concern, what else might it be? In my opinion, it goes back to our debates about the fight over power and money. The NSA might start this project due to good causes, to against terrorism is one of them. However, as the NSA grows, the amount of data it has collected also grow tremendously, and thus, money has to be spent for creating data storage, developing mechanism for analyzing data, and hire people, the experts, to help them analyze those data,etc. It costs a lot of money, and the government’s money(more accurately, US’ tax money, the people’ whom it is spying on money) is fueling this Spying Empire. But government doesn’t want to give out money for free to NSA anymore, because once you have solved the problem, which is the terrorism or several other good causes cannot be named by the NSA, there is no longer any justification for it to grow/get the money. Hence, NSA has to create new goals, something they can do with the extra data they have. This part is arguably connected to how Google used their data in the past and now (with AdWords) where they purposely used the data collected for their own uses.
At this point, I can see no reasons to let NSA keeps spying on my information as well as other people’ data. However, it is a hard answer to other people because it is many lives that are put on the scale and even with a slightest chance that NSA can use our information to save those lives, it is difficult for us to waive it.