Do you now where you’ll be in 24 hours? Because now the NSA does, to within a 20-yard radius.
The White House did its best to downplay The Guardian’s bombshell report on widespread phone record collection by the National Security Agency (NSA).
A senior administration official told the AP that information collected includes phone numbers, location data, and call times, but not the contents of any phone conversation.
That claim is dubious, considering previous reports by AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein and NSA whistleblowers William Binney and Thomas Drake that the NSA gathered virtually all electronic records and communications.
Even limited to “telephony data,” however, the NSA would be able to profile anyone in America with incredible depth.
A person who knows all of another’s travels can deduce whether he is a weekly churchgoer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individuals or political groups,” it read, “and not just one such fact about a person, but all such facts.
Indeed, last August we covered how just this telephone data gathered from you and your closest friends could predict a lot about you, to include where you’ll be in 24 hours within a 20 meter radius.
Last year, Nokia held what it called “Interdependence and Predictability of Human Mobility and Social Interactions” dedicated competition.
Basically, volunteers gave competing research teams the exact same information the NSA just acquired.
Here’s what they were able to tell from that information:
— Your location in 24 hours, to within 20 meters.
— Your demographics — race, age, class.
— Your intent, or the reason you a traveling to a certain area.
The information the NSA is collecting is metadata, not content (like a wiretap), and not account names. Uncovering personally identifiable information would require separate warrants to do so. This was a pattern analysis, not really mass surveillance as we traditionally understand it.
Traditional or not, though, that “pattern analysis” is as good as a fingerprint.
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