On May 23rd, The American intelligence agency NSA started the process of deleting the call records it has obtained from US telecom companies since 2015. The number is in hundreds of millions, according to NYTimes.
NSA announced the move in a statement last week where it noted that “technical irregularities in some data received from telecommunications service providers” are the reason.
The agency uses call detail records (CDR) to find links between people and use the information to catch terrorism suspects on their radar. Because of the irregularities spotted by officers several months ago, NSA scooped the CDRs of people who weren’t linked to the targets.
NSA’s general counsel, Glenn S. Gerstell told the publication that one or more unnamed telcos, due to “several complex technical glitches,” provided more data than needed, including information about people unconnected to the target.
After knowing that it was infeasible to “identify and isolate properly produced data,” the decision to hit the delete button was taken.
The call detail records were collected under the USA Freedom Act which came into effect in 2015. Since then, NSA obtained in 151 million call records in 2016 and 534 million in 2017–it totals to 685 million.
The program succeeds NSA’s previous surveillance program, a secret until 2013, that was exposed to the public by Edward Snowden.