U.S. Constitution — AMENDMENT IV
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Proposed 9/25/1789. Ratified 12/15/1791.
Let’s not be naive. Big-brother, mass surveillance, in the name of “protecting its Citizens”
Shame on the USA Government for going into extremes.
You should read Stop likening NSA to a private company! (Salon.com). I totally agree with the article’s author. Do not compare the Government with private companies – there is a major difference between the Gov monitoring/surveillance and the relationship between consumers and private companies.
I am afraid that this issue of government surveillance goes beyond Democrats and Republicans — both have failed with respect to preserving the basic privacy rights. Where is the line drawn? Both political parties, and it is getting exponentially worst, use “terrorism and fear” as a way to rationalize their unbalanced and extreme surveillance efforts. This is just the beginning. How far will this go? How far are you willing to let this go? Who is responsible? “Only look into a mirror.”
I keep reading that all this is OK because the NSA is only collecting “metadata”. They use the term “metadata” as if it is harmless data. But it is not harmless. Let’s not be naive. Metadata is “data about data”. Metadata is used to describe data structure, and to describe the data itself. Metadata in this case is the Call Detail Records (CDR) — each time a call is made, a call detail record is stored somewhere in the operator’s network (storage). The following information can be pulled from a CDR:
- “Originating number”,
- “Terminating number”,
- The duration of each call,
- Trunk identifiers (call connection/endpoint info),
- Routing information (call/connection routes in the network),
- International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number.
The IMSI can glue it all together. The first 3 digits of IMSI tells you the mobile country code (MCC), and the mobile network (operator) code (MNC). Information that can be mapped to via the IMSI include IMEI (describes the handset/device model), MSISDN (telephone numbers), and account information such as telephone calling card numbers, personal/family information, and even the actual traffic/message contents. Other information that can be easily extrapolated from the network is Cell-site location data.
So the game the Government is playing is that they are retrieving “harmless metadata” (which as you can see above, tells a lot about individuals and privacy). They will parse millions of CDRs and look for “patterns”. From such “patterns” they will issue subpoenas or similar to extract the actual message contents and personal information for specific cases and individuals. This two-step process is the reason why they are saying “extracting metadata is harmless”. Again, let’s not be naive. These are patterns or search criteria that can be anything, it is way too loose. Who is watching the watchmen?
All this is about basic principles. Naive are those who fail to see this. There is the reason why the Fourth Amendment was added to our Constitution in the first place – to protect its Citizens of exactly this kind of dystopian acts that we are experiencing right now.
In case you don’t know, the 4th amendment was ratified in 1791; this is a long time ago. But it was introduced for a good reason, which should not surprise you. Back then, as it is now and will in the future, governments tend to be controlled by the few (individuals and enterprises), gain extreme powers, believe it has a mission from God, and begins coercing conformity and soliciting submission from their Citizens. This has happened again and again throughout out the world’s history. It happened back then in the late 1700s when the 4th amendment was put in place, and it is happening right now. But the 4th Amendment must be updated to reflect today’s definition of “papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”.
Related to this, a must read: The Eternal Value of Privacy (Bruce Schneier).
Coincidentally, two months ago, last April, I wrote a blog V for Vendetta, C for Constitution, which talks about this exact issue on how people are and will be willing to give up their rights, without understanding what they are really doing — until it is too late. Then will ask themselves, who is to blame. And the answer is “only look into a mirror.”
Power and Terrorism leads to fear. Fear leads to government control. Government control leads to censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. Coercion and submission leads to deprivation of Rights.
Last but not least, a must read by JWZ: It’s been a great week for the relentless march toward dystopia!
God Bless America…