The National Security Agency at the request of the FBI is keeping a record of everywhere you go and everyone you talk to at all times.
Since, as The Guardian reports, the government is collecting this information from all Verizon customers, it’s reasonable to assume that it is also doing so with every other telecommunications carrier. In other words, there’s little doubt that every single individual in this country who uses any form of electronic communication is under 24-hour-a-day surveillance.
The White House is hiding behind the word “metadata” as it attempts to defend its actions — on the assumption that most people will overlook the loss of privacy if they believe that the content of their conversations is not being recorded.
In reality, metadata is the information that is of greatest interest to a security state. How so? Imagine the converse. Suppose the NSA was recording the content of all communications but not the metadata. Suppose it could only gain access to the metadata under a specific search warrant. The government would always know everything that was being said but have no idea who was talking to who. It couldn’t engage in data mining, constructing social networks and most of the other features of a mass surveillance enterprise. It couldn’t utterly abandon the principle that criminal investigation needs to be constrained by reasonable suspicion and probably cause.
People who think that screening procedures by TSA agents are unreasonably intrusive should be even more concerned about the handling of their metadata.
It’s not just metadata; it’s my data. And it’s turning into the equivalent of a citizens’ bar code used not only by governments but also corporations who understand that information is power and thus resist whatever constraints are imposed on their ability to gather personal information as extensively and in as great detail as they can.
The Guardian reports: The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.
The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.
The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.
The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.
Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered. [Continue reading…]