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Monday, November 30, 2015

NSA ends telephone data collection, now no one cares who I call

by John MacBeath Watkins

Today is the first day in a long time the National Security Agency is, according to it, no longer engaged in gathering telephone metadata. This is a tragedy my future biographers will lament.

Now, no one cares who I call, and the record of customers calling to ask if I have a copy of some obscure tome is no longer being kept. The NSA'a metadata -- who calls me and who I call and when -- is just going to disappear into the ether. Future generations will never be able to go into the eventually declassified metadata and chronicle my long, twilight struggle to disconnect from Comcast, or determine whether I have drunk-dialed my ex-girlfriends.

I know the project was not intended primarily to provide a resource for those who might, one day, want to chronicle the life of someone who has had no perceptible effect on the history of the world, who has never starred in a movie, recorded a hit song, or assassinated a world leader. But consider that the NSA was keeping one of the very few records of my life in existence.

Yes, my friends and relatives will remember me for the rest of their lives, or until dementia erases all memory of me, but they will fade, like me, into unrecorded history. Only a few records in an NSA database will persist, in the manner of secret files no one cares about. It will be too much trouble to decide what is important in those databanks, to much trouble to actually determine that my data need not be preserved, so I expect those few records to remain on whatever media the NSA deems most archival.

But tragically, all record of my calls ends yesterday, unless some rogue agent is secretly keeping the record of my existence alive.

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