The NSA’s phone surveillance program that allowed the agency to analyze phone calls and text messages from 2015-2019 cost $100M and only produced two unique leads, mostly generating information that the FBI already possessed.
A newly declassified study shows how the program failed to achieve anything significant outside of one investigation that didn’t warrant action after additional vetting and information about a phone number that led to a foreign intelligence investigation being opened.
The program was shut down in 2019 due to cost, ineffectiveness, and issues with data collection, privacy, and legality. Throughout the program’s duration, the NSA overcollected data and collected data that they had no legal authority to collect. Telecommunications companies also provided too much information, adding to the cost and inefficiency of the program.