NSA Phone Data Sales Key in Latest Federal Budget Fix

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NSA Director Alexander before Congress

House budget negotiators averted yet another showdown by meeting much of the federal government’s projected fiscal year 2015 spending gap with proceeds from the sale of phone data on U.S. citizens that the National Security Agency has been collecting since 2001 under the USA PATRIOT ACT.

“We know NSA’s data collection has been controversial, but at least we were able to solve a very real problem with it, and that’s to get our fiscal house in order without resorting to showdown tactics and last-minute deals,” says House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

“I think what we’ve done today is a model for forging solutions going forward,” says Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). “I’m proud of the level of cooperation we had from both sides of the aisle. I can say without hesitation that if we work together like this on future budget issues, we can address even the toughest issues on behalf of the American people, which is what they elected us to do.”

Under the deal, tens of millions of phone data records collected by the NSA will be sold to corporations and foreign governments for tens of billions of dollars, which is more than what negotiators needed to forge a deal.

The deal addresses future shortfalls as well, by making available additional NSA phone data sets for other sales, although which data and how much was left to NSA to decide. “We have more phone record data than we know what to do with, frankly,” says NSA Director Keith Alexander. “We have tens of millions of records we can sell each quarter, so I can see this influx to the federal budget reaping rewards for quite some time.”

What’s more, says Alexander, most of the data is completely useless. “Guys lying to their wives, employees making lame excuses to get our of work—I mean, most of the phone conversations we’ve tapped are really innocuous conversations that people have every day. If foreign governments and corporations want to buy this crap, I’m happy to sell it to them.”

Alexander says he’s been surprised at the level of interest among some governments to get the records. “Maybe they’re looking for material they can share with their TV producers for sitcom ideas? I don’t know. Most of it puts me to sleep.”

In their joint statement announcing the budget agreement, Ryan and Van Hollen said if the sale of the data proceeds well over the next three years, they’ll consider authorizing NSA to sell other data assets, including records on American’s Internet use, cable TV viewing habits, and Amazon purchases. “The NSA has it all, so why just sit on it?” the lawmakers say in their joint statement. “If buyers want to know how badly Americans spend their time, let them pay for it. We have plenty of this crap to sell.”

This is a work of satire. It is fictional news article not meant to be taken seriously. Photo: fg (Creative Commons). Not necessarily an endorsed use of image.

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