As the world has learned in the past year, you can’t talk about freedom of
expression online without talking about the integrity of the infrastructure
that channels that expression. Over the past year, Americans have learned
how much of our own Internet infrastructure is compromised.
Note that this post is concerned specifically with phone tracking as done by US domestic law enforcement agencies. Intelligence agencies engaged in bulk surveillance, such as the NSA, have different requirements, constraints, and resources, and generally use different techniques. For example, it was recently revealed that NSA has access to international phone “roaming” databases used by phone companies to route calls. The NSA apparently collects vast amounts of telephone “metadata” to discover hidden communications patterns, relationships, and behaviors across the world. There’s also evidence of some data sharing to law enforcement from the intelligence side (see, for example, the DEA’s “Hemisphere” program).
Segmenting potential customers based on their traumas is the funhouse-mirror inversion of a popular retail strategy known as “life-stage marketing.” The idea is that during certain transitions—weddings, births, new homes—people will spend a lot of money, obviously, but will also be especially open to changing their habits. Crate & Barrel hosts engagement parties not only to persuade couples to register at its stores but to build new brand loyalties. Companies race to be the first to find these lucrative shoppers, which is how Target got in trouble several years ago for revealing that a teen-age girl was pregnant before she had told her father.
Life-stage marketing is geared to all those happy families who are alike; it forgets about the others, all unhappy in their own way.
that’s why we keep and carry stories in the same places we carry and keep maps: on our walls, in our pockets, and on our phones.
The National Security Agency’s practice of collecting and storing data on all phone calls is illegal and should be shut down—that’s the conclusion of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent executive-branch agency. Its board members are empowered to investigate and analyze classified material. They’re the latest independent voice to cast doubt on various NSA claims.
The untargeted collection and storage of SMS messages – including their contacts – is revealed in a joint investigation between the Guardian and the UK’s Channel 4 News based on material provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The documents also reveal the UK spy agency GCHQ has made use of the NSA database to search the metadata of “untargeted and unwarranted” communications belonging to people in the UK.
The NSA program, codenamed Dishfire, collects “pretty much everything it can”, according to GCHQ documents, rather than merely storing the communications of existing surveillance targets.
The NSA has made extensive use of its vast text message database to extract information on people’s travel plans, contact books, financial transactions and more – including of individuals under no suspicion of illegal activity.http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/16/nsa-collects-millions-text-messages-daily-untargeted-global-sweep