I was on vacation when the NSA story hit the wire, so this question may have been asked.
Has anyone asked if the NSA is using speech-to-text to store our phone calls into a big database? I mean, specifically asked an Administration official if they are using speech-to-text technology?
If they are doing this, they can deny that they are listening to our phone calls because they are actually reading them.
Pretend that you are a consultant working for the NSA. You know that you cannot hire enough people to listen to every phone call in the United States, so you pay a few million dollars to develop a special purpose computer processor that can analyze the narrow-band digitally-encoded audio that is a modern phone call and do it several orders of magnitude faster than a general purpose processor like the one in your desk top.
Then you put 64 of these processors on one computer board. Then you put 64 of these boards in one computer cabinet. Then you rent a room from Verizon at their main hub and put a few of these cabinets in it. Maybe more than a few. Hell, you have a budget that would make King Midas blush!
Once you have all the text in a database, you then get paid to develop database queries that identify certain conversations as "terrorism related." Then you send the results of your query to the FISA court to get authorization to fetch the full text of the phone call or maybe even the original audio.
You overload the FISA court with hundreds of requests per day. If you have any sense you will behave like a financial derivative designer and make some of the queries so complicated that the regulators can't understand them. After all, we aren't paying you a hundred grand a year for a simple keyword search, are we?
Soon enough, the FISA court is overloaded so they do the sensible thing and issue a warrant to access the original phone call if it gets a hit on any database queries on the "approved list."
Does this scenario seem plausible to anyone else?