Shortly after the earliest articles sourced to Edward Snowden appeared, Americans newly aware of the cell phones in their pockets started wondering: Would the NSA ever collect the location data that all of us generate? The possibility proved worrisome to the public and privacy experts alike. A surveillance state that routinely tracked our movement would feel dystopian and enable abuse, as various TV, web, and print commentators noted.
Even Congress seemed to be concerned. A letter signed by 26 senators declared that NSA bulk collection of phone records has a significant impact on privacy.* "This is particularly true if these records are collected in a manner that includes cell phone locational data, effectively turning Americans' cell phones into tracking devices," it stated. "Has the NSA collected or made plans to collect Americans’ cell-site location data in bulk?"