My old shop in Misawa, Japan. One of old Jack Anderson's, "secret overseas listening posts." (the revelation of which infuriated Richard Nixon & got Anderson put on Nixon's "enemy's list." )
The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism.
This is why what the NSA is doing, "just collecting metadata" is so dangerous:
By collecting "just metadata" what the NSA is actually creating is a database of American relationships. That is called Signals Intelligence, something the military and spy agencies have been perfecting for hundreds of years.
What is being said in these conversation is pretty much irrelevant. What matters are the RELATIONSHIPS. Consider this:
Recently the gun folks were up in arms about the possibility of background checks being retained as a "government confiscation list," while at the same time ignoring this threat from their everyday communications.
And then consider this: the signals from two cell towers (two, so you can plot where the signals overlap) both cover a gun store or gun range. The NSA, with the coerced assistance from the telcoms, grab every phone number (metadata) connected to the tower and store it. Then the NSA relates the positional information stored in each connection to the location of the gun store or gun range. This gives them a basic list of likely gun enthusiasts.
Interactive Infographic Of The Day: Watch A Cell Phone Company Stalk A Customer: 6 months of movements, numbers dialed and received, internet & SMS activity retained. http://ow.ly/naDmq
Then the NSA begins tracking these numbers: who they contact, where they go, how long they stay (it's all implicit or inferable from the cell data records, "just metadata"). This collection cascades into a master likely gun enthusiast relationships database: some will be dead ends, some will be persons of "of interest," but all are keepers because, just as all knowledge is valuable, all data has value...and data storage is dirt cheap.
Through these cell tower records, again all "just metadata," the NSA has also tracked the movements of gun enthusiasts via cell tracking (even if GPS location setting are turned off on the cellphone). So now NSA can determine who met with whom, where and when they met.
More importantly, the government will be smoking out those gun owners who'd purposely flown beneath the background check radar by only buying from individuals or at gun shows. These "under the radar gun owners" will tell on themselves by their associations and their locations, betrayed by "just metadata."
Instant gun owner confiscation list, all without listening to a word of conversation and without any real warrant.
This is all possible because of the advent of powerful HADOOP processors arrayed n huge server farms with nearly unlimited storage, using sophisticated NO SQL search engines. Using the unprecedented power, parsing, and storage capabilities, the government can, within a very short time, pull together all the RELATIONSHIPS of any person or group they wish to target, legally or illegally.
The NSA Is Building the Country's Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say) | Threat Level | Wired.com http://ow.ly/naBTF
Add in web and email traffic (not the content, just the relationships--"just metadata") and the government has a nearly complete picture of you, your movements, your core beliefs, and your contacts.
It's also been revealed that the USPS has been electronically recording the address information on the outside of mail, so add that to the relationship mix, too.
Old School Snail Mail 'Metadata' Still Being Harvested By The USPS And Turned Over To Law Enforcement/Security Agencies By Request | Techdirt http://ow.ly/naCXw
Finally, the police have been deploying license plate readers on patrol cars. These readers process every plate the police car encounters in traffic comparing it with wanted and stolen plates. However, the data is retained. So, when linked with DMV records and your cellphone, add that to the data pile of what the government knows about you and can track....even if you turn off your cellphone. Notice all the traffic cameras around: at intersections, along freeways.
You Are Being Tracked: How License Plate Readers Are Being Used to Record Americans' Movements | American Civil Liberties Union http://ow.ly/naD69
License plates are easy to read and catalog; and the reading and tracking software is getting better all the time.
Identify, vilify, isolate, & harass. It's what governments do. The worst governments will also "eliminate."
Now, if you believe that the government is benign and you've got nothing to hide, that's just naive. Those who believe that lack any sense of history and have no imagination. To paraphrase the comic strip Dilbert: "it's clear you will not survive by your wits."
Some day, maybe not during this administration but in some future administration --perhaps an administration in your child's adult future-- that administration will be tempted to use this information against the citizens...or more likely, some subset of citizens.
Add in the various "watch lists" the government maintains and you should be concerned, at the least.
Isn't it amazing how quickly the politicians and the administration are to label some person or group a "terrorist threat" or a "person of interest."
So, who can be targeted as the new American "terrorists" using this data: those who oppose policies of the government:
- Gun Owners
- Occupy Wall Street protesters
- Anti-G8 protesters
- People of religion or a subset of some religion
- anti-war protesters
- animal rights activists
- Internet freedom activists
- Internet privacy advocates
- school reformers
- the poor
- the rich
- business owners
- soccer moms
All of us would have trouble trying to account for every movement, every verbal shot fired in anger on the internet, every meeting, every telephone call. They --business or the government-- can break you just by keeping your in court for years.
All it takes for your government
to turn on you
is for you to join some group actively opposing what that government says or does. Since none of us agree with our government all the time, you, too, hazard the risk of being labeled a "terrorist."
The real danger is that we will let the fear of being targeted keep us from participating, from correcting our government when it's wrong.
All it takes is a few highly-publicised electronic crucifictions, martyrdoms for any cause, to have a chilling effect on any resistance to the government's will.
Signals intelligence in modern history - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://ow.ly/m9BOL
How The FBI Caught Paula Broadwell - Business Insider http://ow.ly/m9h0t
Phew, NSA Is Just Collecting Metadata. (You Should Still Worry) | Wired Opinion | Wired.comow.ly/mhHwF
Bush-Era NSA Whistleblower Makes Most Explosive Allegations Yet About Extent of Gov’t Surveillance — and You Won’t Believe Who He Says They Spied On | TheBlaze.com http://ow.ly/mmAzf