The NSA is said to have continued collecting phone data on American citizens after Congress passed a law that was to limit their scope of data collection to those that were merely suspected of potentially having ties to terrorism according to a new report issued today. In 2016 the NSA collected the phone record of 42 different people who were suspected having ties to terrorism yet throughout the year the report states that the NSA had actually collected a total of 151 million phone call records.
The report also notes that 151 million is not the actual number of the people whose phone record data was collected, as the 151 million includes phone numbers that may have been listed in the records more than once. Expanding on that the report suggests the actual total number of phone records collected from individual persons is quite a bit less, albeit without mentioning a set definitive number to correlate along with amount of people.
151 million may sound like a lot of records to collect data from, and it is, but in comparison to the amount of phone records that were being gathered by the NSA before it was revealed that they were spying on American citizens it's said to be a relatively small number. The NSA was ordered to stop their surveillance practices in late 2015 after they were deemed a huge issue with privacy, which could make it a little more surprising that the practices were continued and for such a long period of time before it was revealed that surveillance didn't exactly stop, but was merely scaled back. While the exact number of individuals whose phone records were collected isn't mentioned, it was stated that the NSA "unmasked" a fewer amount of people in 2016 compared to the year before. The report highlights that a request was issued for 1,934 names last year, but the year before a request was issued for the unmasking of 2,232 names. It wasn't stated what the reasons were for the unmasking nor did it reveal the names of the people issuing the requests. Other information that seems to have been left out of the report is how often data was collected about American citizens throughout last year.