Dianne Feinstein, the chair of the US Senate committee charged with holding the intelligence establishment to account, declared on Monday that the National Security Agency’s mass collection of phone records is “not surveillance” and should be maintained as an essential tool to combat terrorism.
(Much more at the link.)
She’s right, though I disagree with her conclusion.
Surveillance is mindful, directed, and rational. It selects a target and follows it, whether for noble or ignoble ends.
The NSA is a mindless vacuum cleaner sucking up everything it finds just because it can, hoping it might find something. It has become a candidate for Hoarders.
I do think it’s quite wrong and illegal for it to do so, but I also think that recognizing the difference between “surveil” and “suck” is vital. The NSA doesn’t surveil.