Not all conspiracy theories are looney. Like the “global warming is a fraud,” Most, however, are the imaginations of people with more time than sense. Like the “Nazi moon base,” “Kentucky Fried Chicken makes black men impotent” and “barcodes are intended to control people.” Yep, those are real conspiracy theories and, like most, are meant to scare people.
Like a Barack Obama campaign speech, these theses are feces.
First of all, this concept counts on NSA violating an inbox full of laws. No matter what some may think, that doesn’t happen. There are very strict – VERY STRICT – procedures in place and enforced to prevent illegal actions. The sanctity of the Fourth Amendment is paramount at NSA. It is drilled into every employee from the first day on the job and repeatedly thereafter. NSAers are required to review legal procedures and protocols every year and reminders of the agency’s commitment to the law from the Director and other leaders are routine.
The law is not a cavalier concept nor is it paid lip service at the National Security Agency. But that assertion will not convince the conspiracy-minded or those with political or nefarious agendas.
So let’s look at this idea logically – something else foreign to the theorists.
There are over 5 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide. That’s equivalent to 77% of the world population and up 15% from 2009.
It’s estimated that there were over 900 billion cell phone calls made just in the United States last year. And not all of these are real conversations. What about butt dialing, late night drunk calls, harassing (ring and hang up), dropped calls, voice mail retrieval and just checking in?
Consider, too, what people are doing on these phones in addition to making voice calls. They’re texting, conducting banking, searching the web, making point-of-service payments (I use mine at Starbucks), navigating via GPS, playing online games, watching movies and TV, checking sports scores, sending and receiving video, Tweeting and Facebooking.
More than 6.1 trillion text messages were sent in 2010
And we’re not talking about just adults. Kids as young as 10 have their own cell phones.
And then there is email. Best estimates are that 90 trillion emails were sent in 2010. That’s 294 billion per day; 2.8 million every second.
And here’s the kicker; 80-90% of those were spam and viruses.
There are nearly 2 billion legitimate email users and 3 billion email accounts worldwide, more than one in every five persons on the earth. Of these 730 million were business email accounts.
The point to all this arithmetic is that the mass of information through which the National Security Agency must sift in pursuit of real bad guys is so astronomical that collecting all email and listening to all phone calls is more than just illegal, it’s not possible, efficient, smart or worthwhile. Even a fraction of it poses a huge burden of search and discovery.
The numbers cited above are estimates that are, most likely, low, but they are only going to get larger. If you or any of the “big brother” conspiracy advocates want to believe that NSA is listening in on you when there are far greater people and elements of concern, then I recommend a good anti-psychotic.
Face it, NSA just isn’t that into you.