Traffic analysis is no big deal, huh?

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As we all know now, NSA has been compiling a database of people's phone call records. Among the explanations of why this is OK you'll hear are:

The records only contain phone numbers, not names.
Unfortunately for this argument it's absolutely trivial to map from people's phone numbers to their names. Try it yourself.

It's not an invasion of your privacy because it doesn't contain any of the actual voice
Well, maybe. Consider whether you want it publicly known you called that phone sex line. Similarly, many an affair has been undone by looking at people's cell phone logs. Moreover, it's pretty disingenuous of the Bush Administration to argue that this kind of traffic analysis isn't secret when they've fought not to disclose records of how often Jack Abramoff visited the White House and who he met with. The truth is that this kind of who-contacted-who information is incredibly revealing, which is why people want to keep it sensitive. Of course, it's possible you have absolutely nothing you don't want anyone else to know about, but I doubt that on reflection most people really do.

It's necessary for the security of the US
So little is really known about the NSA's surveillance activities in this are that it's pretty difficult to say anything definitively here one way or the other. But given all the various intrusions that are justified in the name of security which are in fact nothing of the sort (with airport security screening being exhibit A), I'm not exactly inclined to take that argument very seriously. The government could of course commission a study on the importance of this kind of surveillance, but given that on related issues they've chosen to stonewall...