Reply to post: Headline statistics are meaningless

US surveillance court declined less than 2 per cent of applications

StuartMil

Headline statistics are meaningless

"less than 2% of requests rejected" could mean that most things are just "rubber stamped" or that 98%+ of the requests are genuine and valid.

It's like the annual Police statistics in the run up to Christmas... "5 times more people charged with drunk driving compared to last year". It's meaningless without context, details or comparison.

In the Police case - how many stops/checks did they carry out this time compared to last time. If it was the same number of checks then a 5x increase charges is a bad sign, but if they carried out 10x the number of checks, then a 5x increase in charges means that less people, as a percentage, were drinking and charged. But the headlines will still say "5x" and present it as bad, when it's actually a reduction in the offending rate.

It's the same with "secret courts". Without some transparent and objective review of the details of the requests and reasons for approval, or refusal, the headlines seem meaningless. Of course, we'll never see those details.

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