Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Toldja so

Posted by Charles II on July 2, 2013

It was controversial a month ago when I said that the USG was wiretapping everyone. David Simon was saying that all that the NSA was doing was the equivalent of a pen trace. Just the “metadata.”

Via Digby, NYT’s Scott Shane and David Sanger:

The documents show that America’s phone and Internet companies grew leery of N.S.A. demands as the years passed after 9/11, fearing that customers might be angry to find out their records were shared with the government. More and more, the companies’ lawyers insisted on legal orders to compel them to comply.

So the N.S.A. came up with a solution: store the data itself. That is evidently what gave birth to a vast data storage center that the N.S.A. is building in Utah, exploiting the declining cost of storage and the advance of sophisticated search software.

But just as scary is what can be done with the metadata alone. Especially in densely populated areas, cell phone towers are so close together, you can reconstruct exactly what a person did. German parliamentarian Malte Spitz requisitioned his phone records from the telephone company and created a map of what the metadata showed. Apparently it works even when the GPS is off.

You can see the results as he travels from Berlin to Erlangen and then Munich (and apparently flies back) here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1EKvWot-3c

More information from Die Zeit (in English) here.

So… why haven’t we been seeing this on ABC/NBC/CBS?

2 Responses to “Toldja so”

  1. Why haven’t we seen this on ABC/NBC/CBS etc.? Because they (and the general public) stopped caring when the foreign surveillance was mentioned. Especially since the very countries complaining the most have been doing lots of spying themselves: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/berlin-profits-from-us-spying-program-and-is-planning-its-own-a-906129-2.html )

    Snowden may have talked all the time about how he didn’t fear his impending martyrdom, but that’s because he really didn’t expect to be a martyr. His entire strategy was based on Ecuador’s giving him asylum after he got to Russia. That’s why he said and did things that would doom him in any US court of law — things like boasting that he took the Booz contract job with the intent to collect data and then leak it. (See also: http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/snowden-took-job-to-get-evidence-of-surveillance-062413 ) He never expected to face a US court of law.

    Except, with Ecuador saying “no” to his asylum request, suddenly his plan fell apart, and with the conditions Putin has set for him, it looks very much like Snowden will be stuck in the airport no-man’s-land until either he or Putin tire of the situation and arrange for the US to come fetch him. My guess is that he will be handed over to the US Embassy in Moscow before the end of July, at which point he will be flown back to the US to await trial.

    And the great national conversation about domestic snooping, a conversation which two weeks ago it looks like he could have started, won’t happen after all.

    • Charles II said

      I’m less convinced that this will end with Snowden’s surrender. I have been impressed with his media strategy and think he has planned things in some depth. I suspect that if worst comes to worst, he may be willing to trade some of the NSA’s family jewels for asylum in Russia or China. On the other hand, the US may have succeeded in so alienating Evo Morales that he’s willing to take Snowden.

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