By Bruce Schneier. Governments and coporations gather, store, and analyze the tremendous amount of data we chuff out as we move through our digitized lives. Often this is without our knowledge, and typically without our consent. Based on this data, they draw conclusions about us that we might disagree with or object to, and that can impact our lives in profound ways. We may not like to admit it, but we are under mass surveillance.
Much of what we know about the NSA’s surveillance comes from Edward Snowden, although people both before and after him also leaked agency secrets. As an NSA contractor, Snowden collected tens of thousands of documents describing many of the NSA’s surveillance activities. Then in 2013 he fled to Hong Kong and gave them to select reporters.
The first news story to break based on the Snowden documents described how the NSA collects the cell phone call records of every American. One government defense, and a sound bite repeated ever since, is that the data they collected is “only metadata.” The intended point was that the NSA wasn’t collecting the words we said during our phone conversations, only the phone numbers of the two parties, and the date, time, and duration of the call. This seemed to mollify many people, but it shouldn’t have. Collecting metadata on people means putting them under surveillance.
An easy thought experiment demonstrates this. Imagine that you hired a private detective to eavesdrop on someone. The detective would plant bugs in that person’s home, office, and car. He would eavesdrop on that person’s phone and computer. And you would get a report detailing that person’s conversations.
Now imagine that you asked the detective to put that person under surveillance. You would get a different but nevertheless comprehensive report: where he went, what he did, who he spoke to and for how long, who he wrote to, what he read, and what he purchased. That’s metadata. (Read more from “The NSA Doesn’t Need to Spy on Your Calls to Learn Your Secrets” HERE)
Leave Facebook If You Don’t Want to Be Spied on, Warns EU
By Samuel Gibbs. The European Commission has warned EU citizens that they should close their Facebook accounts if they want to keep information private from US security services, finding that current Safe Harbour legislation does not protect citizen’s data.
The comments were made by EC attorney Bernhard Schima in a case brought by privacy campaigner Maximilian Schrems, looking at whether the data of EU citizens should be considered safe if sent to the US in a post-Snowden revelation landscape.
“You might consider closing your Facebook account, if you have one,” Schima told attorney general Yves Bot in a hearing of the case at the European court of justice in Luxembourg.
When asked directly, the commission could not confirm to the court that the Safe Harbour rules provide adequate protection of EU citizens’ data as it currently stands. (Read more from this story HERE)