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How Big Brother Can Watch You With Metadata

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David Sirota

David Sirota is International Business Times' senior editor for investigations. He is also a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist and a bestselling author. He lives in Denver, Colorado and covers the intersection of money, politics and finance. He appears periodically on national television shows and is a "real guy represented by the character on ABC's The Goldbergs," according to Twitter.

In 2014, he was the winner of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers' investigative journalism award, and the winner of the Izzy Award for Journalism from Ithaca College's Park Center for Independent Media.

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10 Comments

  1. ericlipps October 10, 2014

    Forget Big Brother.

    Anybody could be watching you . . . !

    Reply
    1. Independent1 October 10, 2014

      Absolutely!! Articles such as this are absolute absurdities!! Sure, if you’re a celebrity, or involved in some nefarious activity, the meta data being kept can be used to track your movements and what you do who you talk to etc. But the problem is that these idiotic articles give everyone that reads them the notion that Big Brother is watching them – a total absurdity!!!

      With almost 300 billion emails a day; billions of phone calls, billions of taxi rides, hundreds of millions of people, unless you’re one of those people I referenced (a celebrity or someone who calls a country where there are terrorists, or is involved with some nefarious activity (or is involved with anyone of these types of people I just mentioed) and you have a better chance of being struck by lightening than having Big Brother track your movements!!!

      It costs money to do all this tracking!! Why would someone track someone just for the fun of it when IT COSTS MONEY!!!!!

      Reply
      1. ericlipps October 11, 2014

        I think you miss the point. It isn’t that the government, or somebody, is watching you, but that it could be happening, via this method of employing so-called metadata, without your suspecting a thing.

        The government can’t possibly watch everyone all the time, but no one can easi;ly know that they’re not being watched–watched perhaps because they’re connected to someone who’s connected to someone who’s suspected of criminal activities. And the “connection” can be as tenuous as a single phone call.

        You’re right about this costing money–but remember, we’re talking about the government here: it’s not as if Washington is shy about laying out the dollars (which they print anyway).

        Reply
        1. Independent1 October 11, 2014

          It’ not me that’s missing the point, it’s people like YOU who are missing the point. Today’s world is a dangerous place, and people HAVE TO SACRIFICE SOMETHING. in order to keep themselves and America safe.

          If that something, is the extreme improbability that at some point in their lives they may become part of the government doing its job to protect EVEN THEM, then so be it!!!

          With 300 billion emails a day, 35,000 phone calls being made a second, THERE IS NO WAY, big brother is reviewing yours, mine or anyone elses
          conversations, or recent activity UNLESS we are involved with some kind of nefarious activity, THAT SOMEONE in our government has specifically identified the need for monitoring us.

          The IDEA that someone is just randomly checking into what you, or me or any normal America is doing, just for the hell of it, IS A TOTAL ABSURDITY.

          NO ONE is simply saying, Oh! let me just check on what this person over here is doing. All this monitoring that the above article is talking about COSTS LOTS OF MONEY TO DO!! IT COSTS people time and computer resources. IT IS NOT BEING DONE WILLY NILLY!!

          When are people going to wake up to that. People in the NSA and our law enforcement are not intentionally wasting minutes or hours just tracking what some random American is doing. HOW MUCH IDIOCY IS THAT VERY IDEA!! These people are charged and paid to do everything they can to protect AMERICA and it’s people.

          Without the metadata that’s being stored, explain how the NSA or the CIA or the FBI would go about trying to uncover some terrorist activity say they learn the names of one or more American ISIS fighters in Syria. How would they uncover whether or not there’s a larger plot within America to commit terrorist acts if they do not have a huge collection of metadata to use in determining if someone is involved in a much bigger plot. Just try thinking of that for a few minutes – especially should the government be prevented from maintaining this metadata and suddenly thousands of Americans are killed like on 9/11.

          Reply
          1. ericlipps October 11, 2014

            Today’s world is a dangerous place, and people HAVE TO SACRIFICE SOMETHING. in order to keep themselves and America safe.
            Oh, we have to sacrifice some of our freedom in the name of safety.

            I’ll defer to Benjamin Franklin: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

            Reply
          2. Independent1 October 13, 2014

            Just for the record, you have no guarantee that if Ben Franklin lived in today’s world, that he would make the same statement. Ben lived in a FAR DIFFERENT world than we live in today. Ben NEVER DREAMED about the complexity of today’s world and the outright fanatasism that goes on in it EVERY SINGLE DAY.

            For people today who live in a world of social media where billions of people post more about their lives openly on the internet than could ever be found out about them via the NSA’s metadata, being as fanatical about their misguided privacy notions over their own safetly, IT’S IDIOCY TO THE MAX!!

            And I want you to find me ANYWHERE, where in the definition of Democracy, that it states that to be a democracy, that a government has to guarantee someone 100% PRIVACY!! Where is that ever recorded??????

            What’s more important in a Democracy, is the government committing to do EVERYTHING IT CAN to guarantee it’s citizens SAFETY IN THEIR LIVES so they can go about LIVING, rather than DYING because the government failed TO PROTECT THEM!!!!!!

            And I’ll guarantee you, if idiots such as yourself succeed in getting laws pass that severely reduce the NSA’s ability to maintain an adequate amount of metadata, that people like you may have the misguided notion of keeping your idiotic privacy, while you’re laying IN YOUR GRAVE!!!

            Reply
          3. ericlipps October 13, 2014

            “Proven.” Ah, that’s the thing, isn’t it. Your argument essentially is that if no one can prove the NSA has violated their privacy, then it’s never happened, period. (And that even if it has, well, we should just trust that the government had our own best interests at heart.)

            It took me all of a minute to look up this
            official
            admission
            by the Agency.

            Then there’s this, and this,
            representing another minute’s worth of looking.

            A democracy demands that the government be accountable to the people. That rules out secretly snooping on them without so much as a court order. The argument that “if I’m not doing anything
            wrong, I have nothing to fear” won’t wash, either. Any society in which the government can secretly monitor everything any citizen does is a society in
            which every citizen must worry at all times that he or she might be targeted, for any reason—including having simply annoyed someone influential—or none. Such a society might look like a democracy, but it wouldn’t be one.

            Reply
          4. ericlipps October 14, 2014

            . . . I want you to find me ANYWHERE, where in the definition of Democracy, that it states that to be a democracy, that a government has to guarantee someone 100% PRIVACY!! Where is that ever recorded??????

            What’s more important in a Democracy, is the government committing to do EVERYTHING IT CAN to guarantee it’s citizens SAFETY IN THEIR LIVES so they can go about LIVING, rather than DYING because the government failed TO PROTECT THEM!!!!!!

            Democracy isn’t about some benevolent shepherd class “protecting” its flock of citizen-sheep. It’s about the citizens not being sheep.

            After all, if you think about it, why are sheep protected in the first place? Not for their own sake but rather so that they can be shorn, bred for more sheep, and ultimately killed and eaten. One wouldn’t want to take this metaphor too far–ours is not a government of cannibals–but America was not established so that Americans would be safe, but rather so hat they would be free. If safety had been all-important, the men who became our Founding Fathers would logically have had to conclude we were better off remaining part of the mighty British Empire.

            That’s not to say we shouldn’t try to protect ourselves, but simply that doing so at the expense of freedom is self-defeating.

            Reply
          5. Independent1 October 13, 2014

            And just one more thing, the NSA has been maintaining this metadata for well over 10 years, I’d appreciate anyone viewing these blogs to identify for me, even one case, where an American has proven that the NSA has used this metadata to INVADE THEIR PRIVACY.

            Aside from an instance where the person was involved in some nefarious activity or was associated with someone who was proven to be engaged in some nefarious activity.

            Reply
          6. leadvillexp October 12, 2014

            We have to sacrifice something to keep safe? You have to be kidding. Ben Franklin said “He who gives up freedom for security deserves neither” . I would prefer to die than live life as a slave. Look up Ben’s other quotes regarding freedom. This is what our country was built on. We are not rabbits. Dictators like Hitler have promised their people for years that they will protect them if only they give up a little bit of their rights and freedom. Don’t you believe it.

            Reply

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