Unsurprisingly, traditional detective work has proven to be more effective than mass, unwarranted collection of data from everybody to prevent actual threats. Yet, the government still pushes for it (including Australia’s recently introduced Metadata Retention law). Anybody can see there are far more nefarious motivations here. Power begets power.
“An in-depth analysis of 225 individuals recruited by al-Qaeda or a like-minded group or inspired by al-Qaeda’s ideology, and charged in the United States with an act of terrorism since 9/11, demonstrates that traditional investigative methods, such as the use of informants, tips from local communities, and targeted intelligence operations, provided the initial impetus for investigations in the majority of cases, while the contribution of NSA’s bulk surveillance programs to these cases was minimal.”