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Media Concerned about Government Having Phone Numbers

"NSA has massive database of Americans’ phone calls," blared the headline for the May 11 "USA Today." But a government agency many Americans dread, particularly every April, has much more personal information on file: the IRS.

"The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth," according to "people with direct knowledge of the arrangement," the pape’’s Leslie Cauley led off her story.

"This program does not involve the National Security Agency listening to or recording conversations," Cauley wrote, noting her sources told her the data was collected "to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity."

All three network morning shows led their May 11 editions with Cauley’s exclusive. ABC’s Diane Sawyer interviewed Cauley on "Good Morning America," where she said "it’s a very good bet" that viewers at home have had their phone call logs turned over to the NSA. Cauley told Sawyer that "Social Security numbers, addresses, or names" were not released by phone companies to the NSA.

The media haven’t shown the same concern about the intrusions of the IRS, which invades the lives of all taxpayers. That agency collects much more personal information on the average taxpayer, including:

  • marital status
  • number of dependents
  • employer
  • total wages and compensation for a given year

If you choose to itemize your deductions, Big Brother may also know where you worship and which charitable organizations you donate to. The IRS also would have a record of your credit card number or checking account number, depending on how you pay your taxes.

[cross-posted to BusinessandMedia.org]

Written By

Mr. Shepherd is a staff writer for the Business & Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.

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