- YouTuber quits fight after Darth Vader fan film claimed by Disney 6 Years Ago
- Millions of Fortnite accounts exposed via Epic Games website exploit Today 2:26 PM
- A man found a camera in his Airbnb and the company didn’t seem to care Today 2:00 PM
- A redditor planted an Easter egg in Hulu’s Fyre Fest doc Today 1:51 PM
- This new revelation about Woody from ‘Toy Story’ will blow your mind Today 1:35 PM
- Dave Rubin fails to delete Patreon on livestream to delete Patreon Today 1:14 PM
- The ‘some of y’all… and it shows’ meme is taking over Twitter Today 12:24 PM
- ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ begins season 2 on a cheerful note Today 11:49 AM
- Climate change memes are disrupting the feel-good ’10 year challenge’ Today 11:48 AM
- Mysterious Washington Post parody predicts Trump’s resignation Today 11:42 AM
- YouTube cracks down on challenges, pranks Today 11:04 AM
- Upskirting will soon be illegal in England Today 10:45 AM
- Jake Paul calls Keemstar a ‘piece of trash’ for ‘body-shaming’ Erika Costell Today 10:18 AM
- Sprint promises to stop selling location data after outcry Today 9:53 AM
- Kirsten Gillibrand announces presidential bid—and Al Franken diehards are salty Today 9:49 AM
NSA comes clean on metadata: Are you within 3 degrees of a target?
“If you know someone who saw something, you should tell someone to say something” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.
The NSA finally admitted Wednesday why it wants to track your phone’s metadata, like the stats of who you call and when.
They’re looking to see if you ever call anybody who’s called anybody who’s called anybody who might be of real interest.
NSA deputy director Chris Inglis told the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that the agency looks for “two or three hops” from a particular target’s activity. That’s a reference to the practice called “contact chaining,” meaning that if a target has contact with somebody else, that person is worth looking at, too.
In June, The Guardian published the first of whistleblower Edward Snowden‘s many explosive documents: proof that the NSA issues court orders for Verizon to turn over the metadata of all American calls, in bulk, for three months at a time.
President Obama, in response to public outrage about that revelation, insisted that “no one is listening to your phone calls” without a warrant. However, in an interview with Charlie Rose, he admitted to and defended collecting Americans’ metadata:
Program number one called the 215 program [referring to section 215 of the PATRIOT Act]. What that does is it gets data from the service providers—like a Verizon—in bulk. And basically you have call pairs. You have my telephone number connecting with your telephone number. There are no names, there’s no content in that database. All it is, is the number pairs, when those calls took place, how long they took place. So that database is sitting there.
That’s not to say that the NSA only uses the telephone metadata to chain terrorists. And other leaked Snowden documents indicate it’s possible, even quite likely, that the agency taps every major phone carrier, not just Verizon.
There’s also plenty of reason to think the NSA broadly identifies targets, considering yet other leaked documents show the agency has a broad range of ways to define a target can be eligible to track.
Illustration via Jason Reed
A former senior politics reporter for the Daily Dot, Kevin Collier focuses on privacy, cybersecurity, and issues of importance to the open internet. Since leaving the Daily Dot in March 2016, he has served as a reporter for Vocativ and a cybersecurity correspondent for BuzzFeed.