They told us we are not stealing content of your phone calls. We are just collecting metadata.
I do not believe the first part. Why have the capability to snag all of it ( which they do. They can snag upwards of 9 billion calls a day if not more. They have places to store it—Utah data center— and they have the supercomputers to sift through it).
Does it really matter if we are being spied on by our Govt or if indeed it is the United Kingdom or any of the other Echelon countries. They swap it with us with no hesitation based on treaties or agreements signed most likely before you were born.
We now know that every day, U.S. phone companies quietly send the government a list of who called whom and when — “telephony metadata” — for every call made on their networks, because of a secret order by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. It turns out that this has been going on for seven years (and was even reported by USA Today then); the difference now is that the government — uncharacteristically for such a secret intelligence operation — quickly acknowledged the authenticity of the leaked order and the existence of the metadata collection program.
Should we be worried? At least “nobody is listening to our telephone calls” (so the president himself assured us). People breathed a sigh of relief since first learning of the surveillance because surely there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to such seemingly innocuous information — it’s just metadata, after all. Phew!
Unfortunately, metadata still leaves a lot to be concerned about. There’s more to privacy than just the sounds of our voices: Content may be what we say, but metadata is about what we actually do.
Glad these questions are finally starting to get asked.
It’s a fine thing to see mainstream American media outlets finally sparing some of their attention toward the cyber-industrial complex – that unprecedented conglomeration of state, military and corporate interests that together exercise growing power over the flow of information. It would be even more heartening if so many of the nation’s most influential voices, from senator to pundits, were not clearly intent on killing off even this belated scrutiny into the invisible empire that so thoroughly scrutinizes us – at our own expense and to unknown ends.
Summing up the position of those who worry less over secret government powers than they do over the whistleblowers who reveal such things, we have New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who argues that we can trust small cadres of unaccountable spies with broad powers over our communications. We must all wish Friedman luck with this prediction. Other proclamations of his – including that Vladimir Putin would bring transparency and liberal democracy to Russia, and that the Chinese regime would not seek to limit its citizens’ free access to the internet – have not aged especially well.
An unkind person might dismiss Friedman as the incompetent harbinger of a dying republic. Being polite, I will merely suggest that Friedman’s faith in government is as misplaced as faith in the just and benevolent God that we know not to exist – Friedman having been the winner of several of the world’s most-coveted Pulitzer Prizes.
If Friedman is, indeed, too quick to trust the powerful, it’s a trait he shares with the just over half of Americans, who tell pollsters they’re fine with the NSA programs that were until recently hidden from their view. Why, our countrymen wonder, ought we to be disturbed by our state’s desire to know everything that everyone does? Given the possibility that this surveillance could perhaps prevent deaths in the form of terrorist attacks, most Americans are willing to forgo some abstract notion of privacy in favor of the more concrete benefits of security.
Besides, the government to which we’re ceding these broad new powers is a democracy, overseen by real, live Americans. And it’s hard to imagine American government officials abusing their powers – or at least, it would be, had such officials not already abused similar but more limited powers through repeated campaigns of disinformation, intimidation and airtight crimes directed at the American public over the last five decades. Cointelpro, Operation Mockingbird, Ultra and Chaos are among the now-acknowledged CIA, FBI and NSA programs by which those agencies managed to subvert American democracy with impunity. Supporters of mass surveillance conducted under the very same agencies have yet to address how such abuses can be insured against in the context of powers far greater than anything J Edgar Hoover could command.
This is going to be a major problem going forward.
Top secret documents detail the mass scope of efforts by the United States to spy on Germany and Europe. Each month, the NSA monitors a half a billion communications and EU buildings are bugged. The scandal poses a threat to trans-Atlantic relations.
At first glance, the story always appears to be the same. A needle has disappeared into the haystack — information lost in a sea of data.
For some time now, though, it appears America’s intelligence services have been trying to tackle the problem from a different angle. “If you’re looking for a needle in the haystack, you need a haystack,” says Jeremy Bash, the former chief of staff to ex-CIA head Leon Panetta.
An enormous haystack it turns out — one comprised of the billions of minutes of daily cross-border telephone traffic. Add to that digital streams from high-bandwidth Internet cables that transport data equivalent to that held in Washington’s Library of Congress around the world in the course of a few seconds. And then add to that the billions of emails sent to international destinations each day — a world of entirely uncontrolled communication. And also a world full of potential threats — at least from the intelligence services’ perspective. Those are the “challenges,” an internal statement at the National Security Agency (NSA), the American signals intelligence organization, claims.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has compared US spying to Cold War tactics and Brussels wants EU facilities checked for American eavesdropping equipment. Concern is growing the scandal could seriously damage trans-Atlantic relations.
The German government reacted strongly on Monday to media reports that the United States has spent years spying on the European Union and on specific European countries. Meanwhile, European Union leaders have both reviled the US for allegedly bugging EU diplomatic missions in Washington, DC, and New York and ordered that bloc facilities be searched for American eavesdropping equipment.
Potential GDP vs Actual GDP
Where are jobs coming from?
“What is driving the consumer?”