Surprise! An academic advisory panel, chaired by the United States' director of national intelligence James Clapper — yup, the same guy who lied to Congress — has concluded that there's no alternative to bulk data collection. Sorry, US citizens.
The panel was convened in response to a request from US president Barack Obama and made up mostly of computer science experts from the National Academy of Sciences. Their mission was to examine the NSA's use of bulk data collection and see if there was any viable alternative. Shocker: there isn't.
According to the panel, there's no "technological magic" that can completely replace bulk data collection. However, they found that through better use of targeting, viable alternatives that mostly replace bulk data collection could be achieved. Even if the NSA keeps its bulk-data dragnet going (which, let's be honest, it will), the panel suggests having more isolated data and tightly-restricted queries could at least allay some privacy concerns without impacting counter-terrorism operations. [Guardian, Reuters]