Collected intel on the NSA collecting call records

Much has been written over the past week about last Thursday’s USA TODAY story about the National Security Agency collecting call detail records from AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon for all of their customers, allegations that BellSouth and Verizon have denied. I’ve collected some of the best news updates and analysis from the last week:

Lawyers in Rhode Island join those in New Jersey in filing class-action lawsuits against Verizon. There are probably going to be more lawsuits than I can possibly count, before it’s all said and done.

The Federal Communications Commission might attempt to investigate this NSA program. According to commissioner Michael J. Copps, “in a digital age where collecting, distributing, and manipulating consumers’ personal information is as easy as a click of a buttion, the privacy of our citizens must still matter.”

Captain’s Quarters echoes my sentiments in the matter, saying that while we need to root out terrorists, we need to ensure that any power the federal government has is not abused. “For instance, it could be used against whistleblowers to discover their contacts. It could get deployed against opposition parties to determine their scope and the location and number of their supporters. People could get blackmailed for their phone calls in ways that have nothing to do with national security,” writes Captain Ed.

Many people, including Washington Post agitator William Arkin, point out that this is most likely only the beginning. Arkin provides a list of “some 500 software tools, databases, data mining and processing efforts contracted for, under development or in use at the NSA and other intelligence agencies today.”

Finally, Defense Tech points out that data mining is as likely to find innocent people as anything else, with a stunning visual of the links between project teams in a Fortune 500 company compared with links between Al-Qaeda terrorists. I can’t tell the difference.