With Edward Snowden’s revelation of the NSA’s PRISM program, domestic surveillance has become one of the most talked-about subjects of the day. But forget the moral implications for a second and think about the practicalities: Ever wonder how much the government spends to spy on you? Turns out, it’s a lot.
USA Today published in in-depth piece on the matter and it brought about more questions than answers. Let us first get down to brass tax— it costs the United States Government on average $50,000 per wiretap when everything is said in done. Take a second to breathe before screaming at the computer. That is your money they are spending to spy on you.
This piece, however, will not be dissecting whether or not snooping on citizens is the moral thing to do (there are far too many articles on that online already) rather it will outline the actual cost of gaining these wiretaps from cell companies and will look at the economics surrounding it.
Here is the breakdown for most of the nation’s leading carriers: AT&T imposes a $325 “activation fee” per wiretap and $10’s a day to monitor it, Cricket and U.S. Cellular charge only about $250 per wiretap, and Verizon charges the government $775 for the first month and $500 each month after that. All this is according to industry disclosures made last year to Congressman Edward Markey. Email records (such as with Edward Snowden) are much easier to come by at around $25 per account.