Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Why you should be disturbed by NSA domestic spying on the entire country

The Daily Beast explains that recording "mere" metadata about your calling habits can be worse than listing to your calls (and Obama did not deny that spy agencies may be recording your conversations for digital voice-recognition scanning of content by government computers.)

When President Obama defended the NSA’s program on Friday, he offered repeated reassurances that “nobody is listening to your telephone calls.” That is reassuring only if you don’t understand the power of metadata—the record of who calls whom and where they’re located—when processed by a powerful computer. It’s true that the NSA doesn’t want to listen to your boring conversations; metadata is far more useful, less time-consuming to monitor, and potentially more invasive. A sequence of phone calls between business executives could reveal an impending corporate takeover, as former Sun Microsystems engineer Susan Landau told The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer. It could disclose who is meeting with members of political opposition groups, where, and for how long. On a more personal level, calls to doctors and family members could show that you have cancer, and records of where your phone goes at night could show who you’re sleeping with. “The public doesn’t understand,” Landau told Mayer. “It’s much more intrusive than content.”

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