How Accumulo Safeguards Your Civil Liberties

Jeffrey Kelly | Silicon Angle | June 7, 2013

It’s been widely reported that the NSA is in the midst of collecting huge volumes of call metadata from Verizon associated with all domestic and international calls made by the company’s customers for three months starting in mid-April (see the court order here.) Less attention has been paid to what exactly the government does with all that data or the technology supporting it.

While details are sketchy (neither the NSA nor the White House will even acknowledge the existence of the program), it is important to take a step back and understand that the NSA cannot indiscriminately analyze, mine or otherwise explore this vast new trove of data. In order to analyze the data at hand, the NSA must get a court order justified by the reasonable suspicion of an imminent terrorist act.

Even then, the NSA may only access and analyze segments of the call metadata that relate specifically to the potential threat in question and only specific individuals within the NSA can access the data. Among those individuals, access levels vary based on legitimate need to see and analyze the specific data sets covered by the court order.