We’d like to explain why allowing any
government or corporation to collect too much
of your metadata is a bad thing.
Fortunately real journalists have already written enough on this topic to show that the “metadata” from your smartphone and internet browsing can reveal way more than anyone would care to admit.
Instead we present the following 6 articles from respected sources and journalists on metadata and how it can be used to reveal your deepest secrets… even your passwords.
Mobile phones are tracking devices that reveal much about our lives. One look at our interactive map of data provided by the Green party politician Malte Spitz shows why.
This profile reveals when Spitz walked down the street, when he took a train, when he was in an airplane. It shows where he was in the cities he visited. It shows when he worked and when he slept, when he could be reached by phone and when was unavailable. It shows when he preferred to talk on his phone and when he preferred to send a text message. It shows which beer gardens he liked to visit in his free time. All in all, it reveals an entire life.
In an attempt to simulate the NSA’s capability, Ars tracks its own editor for 11 days.
In January 2014, documents provided by Edward Snowden showed that a Canadian spy agency used a unique identifier to follow thousands of Canadians as they moved about the country. The tracking all originated from an unnamed airport.
It got us thinking: how hard would it be to replicate this little experiment, writ small? Could I use one of my own online identifiers as a way to track my own movements through time and space?
The answer, perhaps unsurprisingly, is: yes. It’s easy to do, and it’s revealing about what I do, when I do it, and where I go.
The power of metadata: Addiction, sex, and accusations can all be discovered.
Consider the following hypothetical example: A young woman calls her gynecologist; then immediately calls her mother; then a man who, during the past few months, she had repeatedly spoken to on the telephone after 11pm; followed by a call to a family planning center that also offers abortions. A likely storyline emerges that would not be as evident by examining the record of a single telephone call.
Intelligence services collect metadata on the communication of all citizens. Politicians would have us believe that this data doesn’t say all that much. A reader of De Correspondent put this to the test and demonstrated otherwise: metadata reveals a lot more about your life than you think.
The analysts could see that some users had the same password as Ton, and their password hints were known to be ‘punk metal’, ‘astrolux’ and ‘another day in paradise’. ‘This quickly led us to Ton Siedsma’s favourite band, Strung Out, and the password “strungout”,’ the analysts write. With this password, they were able to access Ton’s Twitter, Google and Amazon accounts.
What they and I have done for this article is child’s play compared with what intelligence agencies could do. An intelligence agency has metadata on many more people over a much longer period of time, with much more advanced analysis tools at its disposal.
So the next time you hear a minister, security expert or information officer say ‘Oh, but that’s only metadata,’ think of Ton Siedsma — the guy you now know so much about because he shared just a week of metadata with us.
One of the key themes that has come out from the revelations concerning NSA surveillance is a bunch of defenders of the program claiming “it’s just metadata.”
This is wrong on multiple levels.
In fact, anyone who claims that “it’s just metadata” in an attempt to minimize what’s happening is basically revealing that they haven’t the slightest clue about what metadata is.
“Just metadata” isn’t “just” anything, other than a massive violation of basic privacy rights.