All sizes | Old Phone | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Researchers try to reverse engineer the NSA metadata program.

A group of researchers has built an Android app aimed at determining just how much the U.S. National Security Agency’s can learn about Americans through its controversial Internet and telephone surveillance programs.

As Technology Review reported, a team of computer scientists at Stanford University has devised an app that they hope will reveal what information the NSA is able to compute from Americans’ telephone metadata.

Though it is unknown exactly what metadata the NSA collects,  the term generally refers to information such as where a call came from, where it went, the time it was made, who made it, and what number was dialed. It also appears that information about the physical infrastructure that carries the calls is scooped up by the agency.

“Some defenders of the NSA’s bulk collection programs have taken the position that metadata is not revealing,” researcher Jonathan Mayer said to Technology Review. “We want to provide empirical evidence on the issue.”

The project, known as MetaPhone, works like this: The researchers are asking willing participants to install an app on their Android phones that will transmit basic metadata from their telephone. The researchers will try to deduce as much information as possible from that data, presumably in the same fashion as the NSA.

In order to find out whether their deductions are accurate, the team is also asking participants to provide basic information from their Facebook pages.

“Our hypothesis is that phone metadata is packed with meaning,” Mayer said.

Photo by Dan Tantrum/Flickr

Promoted Stories Powered by Sharethrough
Congress gearing up for another fight against NSA metadata collection
Congress had the chance, in July, to gut one of the National Security Agency's programs of explicitly tracking Americans. A bill to limit those programs to the targets of specific investigations came within a dozen votes of passing in the House.
The 6 biggest features iPhone 6 stole from Android
Apple is a company that’s all about polish—and sometimes that means taking other people’s ideas, handing them a cup of coffee and a clean shirt, and waiting for them to sober up. As Samsung and Apple duke it out and the iAcolytes wage an endless war with Android fanboys, it’s worth remembering that "borrowing" goes both ways. And, as the course of human history but not the course of humans-doing-business would suggest, some ideas just occur in two places at once.

Pure, uncut internet. Straight to your inbox.

Thanks for subscribing to our newsletter!