NSA Spied On 534 Million US Calls In 2017, Up Sharply From 2016

The NSA collected "call detail records" from over 500 million Americans' phone calls in 2017, over three times the number gathered in 2016 according to a new report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

This marks the second year of reporting following the passage of the 2015 USA FREEDOM Act - which requires that the DNI make public various search terms and surveillance statistics of collected "Call Detail Records," in an Annual Statistical Transparency Report meant to limit the bulk collection of records.

The sharp increase to 534 million call records from 151 million occurred during the second full year of a new surveillance system established at the spy agency after U.S. lawmakers passed a law in 2015 that sought to limit its ability to collect such records in bulk. The reason for the spike was not immediately clear. -Reuters

To that end, the "shocking" 2017 figure of 534 million CDRs collected pales in comparison to the estimated billions of records collected each day under the old NSA bulk collection system exposed by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden - and an earlier iteration of which was exposed by NSA whistleblower William Binney. 

In a statement, Timothy Barrett, a spokesman at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which released the annual report, said the government “has not altered the manner in which it uses its authority to obtain call detail records.”

The NSA has found that a number of factors may influence the amount of records collected, Barrett said. -Reuters

The DNI notes, however, that "the CIA, remains currently unable to provide the number of queries using U.S. person identifiers of unminimized section 702 noncontents information for CY2017." 

What's a 702 target?

According to the report, "Under Section 702, the government “targets” a particular non-U.S. person, group, or entity reasonably believed to be located outside the United States and who possesses, or who is likely to communicate or receive, foreign intelligence information, by directing an acquisition at – i.e., “tasking” – selectors (e.g., telephone numbers and email addresses) that are assessed to be used by such non-U.S. person, group, or entity, pursuant to targeting procedures approved by the FISC. Before “tasking” a selector for collection under Section 702, the government must apply its targeting procedures to ensure that the IC appropriately tasks a selector used by a non-U.S. person who is reasonably believed to be located outside the United States and who will likely possess, communicate, or receive foreign intelligence information.

What is a Call Detail Record?

The ODNI defines a CDR as "session identifying information (such as originating or terminating telephone number, an International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number, or an International Mobile Station Equipment Identity (IMEI) number), a telephone calling card number, or the time or duration of a call. See 50 U.S.C. §1861(k)(3)(A)."

That said, "CDRs provided to the government do not include the content of any communication, the name, address, or financial information of a subscriber or customer, or cell site location or global positioning system information."

A number of factors influence the volume of records collected, said Barrett, which include "the number of Court-approved selection terms - like a phone number - that are used by the target; the way targets use those selection terms; the amount of historical data that providers retain; and the dynamics of the ever-changing telecommunications sector," adding “We expect this number to fluctuate from year to year.”

To see how CDRs add up, the DNI report has provided a handy illustration which shows how one FISA court order might lead to the collection of 6,000 records.

"Assume an NSA intelligence analyst learns that phone number (Phone A) is being used by a suspected international terrorist (target). Phone A is the “specific selection term” or “selector” that will be submitted to the FISC (or the Attorney General in an emergency) for approval using the “reasonable articulable suspicion” (RAS) standard. Assume that one provider (provider X) submits a record showing Phone A called unique identifier Phone B – what is referred to as a “call event.” This is the “first hop.” In turn, assume that NSA submits the “first-hop” Phone B to the provider X, and finds that unique identifier was used to call another unique identifier Phone D. This is the “second-hop.” If the unique identifiers call one another multiple times, then multiple CDRs are produced and duplication occurs. Additionally, the government may receive multiple CDRs for a single call event. NSA may also submit the specific selection Phone A number to another provider (provider Y) who may have CDRs of the same call events."

You can read the report here:


WileyCoyote Fri, 05/04/2018 - 19:28 Permalink

Right to privacy - not so much. Thank you Patriot Act for starting the ball rolling on this injustice.  "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." Benjamin Franklin. 

ClickNLook lazarusturtle Fri, 05/04/2018 - 21:35 Permalink

... or death.



Black Visions From The Satellite
Deaf Ears Hear Not Their Cries
Fat Jackals Howl At The Moon
Flies Buzzing Playing Death's
Night Ends But The Sun It
Don't Rise
Tombs Open And The Dead They
Will Rise
Black Market Buys Your Soul
Real Cheap
No Escaping What You Sow You
Will Reap
Prisoners Of The Damned
Find Another Land
Planet Of The Lost
Land Of Fire And Frost
Prisoners Of The Dead
Fear The Unknown Dread
Tidal Waves At Sea
Set The Serpents Free
Coup D'etat On A Global Scale
Opposition Locked Up In Jail
Domination The Goons Are
The Boss
Human Race Nailed To A Cross

Plasmatics - The Damned

In reply to by lazarusturtle

Global Douche MillionDollarButter Sat, 05/05/2018 - 03:06 Permalink

The avatar and username is totally approved by me. My Wisconsinite friends can't buy that Irish butter in their state and it totally kicks ass in almost any cooking or food prep I use it in. I've permanently poisoned my former roommate's taste buds with it as he won't go back to any American butter brands now. Margarine? I won't even go there as it'll ruin dinner for many of you. That's the difference in real butter from grass-fed cows. A truly Moooooving experience.

In reply to by MillionDollarButter

Falcon49 DingleBarryObummer Sat, 05/05/2018 - 07:11 Permalink

No not really....they needed it to expand to this point...so that it is ubiquitous throughout the world and a essential part of our lives.  They are now in the process of creating a situation (the problem) that will drive the people's acceptance (reaction) of monitoring, control, and censorship of all forms of the media, communications, and the internet (the solution).  All part of an elaborate plan to set the stage for total surveillance, control, and manipulation of the people....and the people will accept it and demand it.

Russia, Russia, Russia, fake news, fake news, fake news...mental illness detected, thought crimes, pre-crime prevention, profiling on a massive scale, counter fake news, information warfare......


"Big brother is watching"

In reply to by DingleBarryObummer

Johnbrown gigadeath Fri, 05/04/2018 - 20:03 Permalink

Israel gets it all. 

NSA shares raw intelligence including Americans' data with Israel

• Secret deal places no legal limits on use of data by Israelis 
• Only official US government communications protected 
• Agency insists it complies with rules governing privacy 
• Read the NSA and Israel's 'memorandum of understanding'


In reply to by gigadeath

Falcon49 Johnbrown Sat, 05/05/2018 - 07:38 Permalink

This is happening with more than Israel.  In order skirt the laws and restrictions of our country dealing with spying on the people... our agencies have agreements with other country agencies to do what would be illegal for our agency to do.  Essentially, they trade the info collected on each-others citizens.  They even task the other country for collections they need.  In some cases, they actually have the other countries personnel operated our agency collection equipment within our own facilities.  They seem to think since they did not actually make the collection...then by the letter of the law they are ok.  The problem is they are breaking the intent of the law...by paying a third party (even if it is a cooperative agreement) to make the collection...in that case the third party acts as a representative of the agency...just as any contractor would.  For example...Just because you make a deal to have someone else commit a crime it does not mean you are not responsible for the crime being committed. 

In reply to by Johnbrown

bshirley1968 BlackChicken Fri, 05/04/2018 - 19:42 Permalink

And until Trump makes any effort to stop this, he is no different than the last 4 sacks of treasonous shit that sat in the white house......and I don't care how many tax cuts he gets passed, how many people get employed, how much trade he wins, or what the hell happens on the Korean peninsula.

And tell that side kick pussy, Mike Pence that THIS is what is undermining our sovereignty as a nation, and he and his boss are responsible.

In reply to by BlackChicken

Global Douche dirty fingernails Sat, 05/05/2018 - 03:15 Permalink

One need only remember that pathetic call center in West Virginny who didn't relay information to FlauRuhDuh about the kid who later shot up parts of his high school. The warning signs were there, yet this critical information fell through the cracks at the hands of true dumbasses with ZeroReasoning. They're just as bad or worse than Sheriff Israel. His reelection should be interesting to watch. Popcorn, please?

In reply to by dirty fingernails

mailll BlackChicken Sat, 05/05/2018 - 01:26 Permalink

Monitoring everything that is electronic including our internet usage, phone calls, credit card transactions, and if our cell phones have GPS, they can even hack into that and find our locations.  This may be a little overboard, but it is probably true.  Anything that is on the internet or in the electromagnetic spectrum they can monitor, or capture.  And it can be used for blackmail if they desire.  The information isn't being used mainly for security of this country, but for control.  And we ain't seen nothing yet.  

In reply to by BlackChicken

ZIRPdiggler BlackChicken Sat, 05/05/2018 - 04:49 Permalink

You can rest assured that legislation called the Freedom ACT may portend to do a lot of things; however, preserving freedom ain't gonna be one of them. In fact, the very fact that the word 'freedom' is in the title of the legislation, ought to serve to warn us, what exactly it is we're about to lose.  Forget for a second this bill is a judicial precedent that lends implicit support to the idea that it's ok for the government to violate your fourth amendment rights.  To put it another way:  DNI/NSA, we now know about your ubiquitous spying and routine violation of our liberties.  But because of the 'Freedom Act', we will all be ok with that.  After all, as long as we know the manner in which you're doing the illegal spying, it's acceptable to us.  Of course, we all know that ABSOLUTELY NONE OF US had anything to do with consenting to this trash legislation.  To the contrary, our "representative" oligarch puppets thought it was a priority to put this in writing to give the appearance of giving a shit about our constitutionally guaranteed liberties.  The only lip service I like is blow jobs.

In reply to by BlackChicken

Endgame Napoleon dirty fingernails Fri, 05/04/2018 - 20:10 Permalink

So many politicians lie, even on the campaign trail. It was hard to under appreciate the catharsis of the rare, non-BS-laden words, especially on issues like mass-scale underemployment of US citizens, the corresponding issue of welfare-fueled illegal immigration and the civil liberties violations of the Deep State. 

Words—dry and riderless, 

The indefatigable footsteps,

While at the bottom of the pool, 

Fixed stars govern a life. 

— Plath

In reply to by dirty fingernails

Jungle Jim WileyCoyote Sat, 05/05/2018 - 08:50 Permalink

It didn't start with the Patriot Act. Ever heard of AEDPA (the "Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act") of 1996? That was the direct precursor to, or you might say an earlier incarnation of, the Patriot Act. But for some reason the media never reported much about it. Covering for the Clinton regime perhaps.

Speaking of Clinton, the first so-called "First Amendment Zone" or "Designated Free Speech Zone" I ever personally encountered was when Clinton and his whole freakish entourage made a campaign stop in a nearby town. All protesters were herded to a huge tobacco warehouse on the other side of town. So that's not something George Bush started either.

In reply to by WileyCoyote

Global Douche DingleBarryObummer Sat, 05/05/2018 - 03:21 Permalink

Actually, I "get" this! Look at the shit these kids get on their phones! I watched one teen sexting his latest sexual conquest on a flip phone in Indiana back in '08, long before doing so had a descriptive name. It was an indirect Jack & Diane Moment, fully realized! No tellin' how much $$ he's spent on the child (or gotten from both Pence's pocketbook or Uncle Sam) since then. Some things change, only because the tech allows it to be! 

In reply to by DingleBarryObummer

DingleBarryObummer Fri, 05/04/2018 - 19:37 Permalink

this is all just to make us afraid to talk to each other about things that cast the government in a negative light.  People don't want the NSA to see an email or hear a convo about 9/11 being an "inside job," lest they may be put on some "naughty list."  I'm sure it works too.  Most people want to be good little sheeps.

Edit:  I didn't really make my point.  The point is: if we never get together and talk about these things, nothing will ever be organized to enact change. That is their motus operandi.  They want us to know they are spying.  Even if they are not spying, if we think they are, it has the same effect.  And it's working great (for them), IMO.

Endgame Napoleon DingleBarryObummer Fri, 05/04/2018 - 20:15 Permalink

The FBI / CIA / NSA failed to prevent 9/11, even though they had advanced knowledge via a listening device, worn by an informant who actually recorded the terrorists in a mosque in NYC, so how are they going to prevent another mass murder by violating the civil liberties of regular Joes? 


In reply to by DingleBarryObummer

headless blogger Fri, 05/04/2018 - 19:37 Permalink


I'd like to sit outside the gate and take pictures of these people as they get off work and drive through the gate. And then post them on the iNet. But I'd be arrested for that. 

And we pay their salaries....which are most likely a lot larger than the average pay most of us get from Private industry.