The list of open questions of the domestic survellance program lists the actual number of people whose phones were wiretapped as a closely guarded secret. Seems like this amount will never be released until official Congress investigation, if ever, but we can make some estimates.

If we get back to this NY Times article and use some brains we can get some clue. We know that here were no efforts made to try to legalize the program officially and to pass the list through the special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, even though this court is accustomed to massive privacy intrusions. Maybe there is no enough judges in the country to stamp all requests? Let see.

Lists of phone numbers appeared to result from the agency’s computerized scanning of communications coming into and going out of the country for names and keywords that might be of interest”. So it’s confirmed that the so-called “Echelon” program, which tracks 3 billion communications daily, is involved. As we’ve read from link above US citizens make only 200 billion minutes of international calls per year. So the addition of domestic spying to the already existing global program is just, technically, a drop in the ocean and does not require any additional computational resources. Add here that “most intelligence officers lacked the training needed to safeguard Americans’ privacy and civil rights”. No wonder.

Back to numbers, we know that F.B.I agents were passed “thousands of tips a month” to check. If the artifical intelligence is capable to sort, say, 0.1% out from total calls as suspected terrorists, then we can estamate that the total of inspected calls runs onto millions per month. How many people are affected? If we estimate that there is an average of 10 calls per month per person then we get 100’s of thousands of people, or millions every year.

What does it mean? If you, personally, made at least one international phone call last year, be assured that it was, most likely, recorded and stored in the computer database and will be used in various data mining requests for years to come.

You are likely to be watched watched when you read this post as well. The conclusion is up to you now.