Friday, May 12, 2006

NSA: Please help me.

USAToday reported recently that the NSA has compiled an enormous database
of the phone transaction records of millions of Americans.

People are rightly concerned. It's good to see this covered in the news.
Maybe we should hold local debates on the topic as well - it would be interesting
to get the average person involved in the discussion - both to learn what s/he
thinks, and perhaps to broaden the perspectives of the general public.

I don't want to justify the existence of this NSA phone database. Or of
continuing to collect data that adds to it. But: I want help with a problem.
I want access to a slice of this database.

I want to know who's been calling me.

Too much phone spam.
I estimate that for every "legitimate" phone call I receive - that is, a call from
somebody I know and care to talk to - I receive 5 that are junk, phone-spam,
telemarketers. I consider each of these phone-spam calls to be trespass. It's
an invasion of my home. Noise pollution. Interruption. Trespass.

I think many Americans would agree. None of us purchased a phone line for the
privilege of having telemarketers call us. None of us (I hope!) sits around at night
hoping for a phone call that would lower his mortgage with some unbelievable
offer that is just too good to be true.

Postal junk mail is bad enough: at least I don't (yet) pay for my mailbox.

CallerID is a joke. It doesn't work for *any* of these phone-spam calls. So: my
phone-answering technique is reduced to this simple rule: if you don't identify
yourself by caller-id when you call me, your call goes to my answering machine.
If you don't start talking (and aren't selling me something), I'll probably won't
pick up the phone and talk to you. Phone-screening: What a waste of my time.

I'm sure that the caller's true identity is in the NSA database. And the NSA probably
knows something else: they probably know if a single marketing corporation has
hundreds of phone lines owned by companies with different names... that these all
effectively originate from one place. They probably have all sorts of fancy ways of
cutting through identity subterfuge that telemarketers use.

I'd like access to this information.

I think it would help us consumers. Help us to get rid of this abuse of our private
property - the peace and quiet we expect at home.


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