There are a lot of things wrong with the NSA conducting mass surveillance. One aspect hasn’t gotten enough attention, I think.
The governing doctrine, as I understand it, is that the Fourth Amendment search and seizure rule doesn’t apply to data collection. It only counts as a ‘search’ that may or may not be ‘reasonable’ when they actually look at the data and attach identities to the actions tracked.
They’re asking for a lot of trust. But not just trust in the present.
I don’t know how long they keep that data, but keeping it is cheap, and the agencies involved are known for keeping records a long time. That means even if you trust the current administration with it, you’re also trusting future administrations as well.
Thus: say you are a woman who called your doctor and then called Planned Parenthood. You might trust the Obama Administration with records of those calls. But what would a Santorum Administration do with that data? I’m sure there are hypotheticals a conservative could come up with in the converse.
One of the ways Americans avoid slippery slopes is to not grant powers on the basis of personal trust. You don’t grant power to an Obama Administration that you wouldn’t trust to a Santorum Administration, or vice versa.
It’s bad enough that this policy exists and could be expanded upon by future administrations. But that’s compounded by the archiving of the data itself. Who knows what policies will be applied in the future to data the NSA has now?