The US government has admitted that it arranges drone strikes and assassinations based on a person’s metadata.
According to the New York Review of Books, the National Security Agency claims that its sweeping collection of phone and Internet records is nothing to worry about because it is only “metadata” are bogus.
NSA General Counsel Stewart Baker has said: “Metadata absolutely tells you everything about somebody’s life. If you have enough metadata, you don’t really need content.”
Now General Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and the CIA, has called Baker’s comment “absolutely correct” and raised him one, asserting, “We kill people based on metadata”.
What is worrying then is that Kevin Bacon theory might actually get yourself on a CIA kill list.
For example, you could be being watched because you called your mum who also ordered a pizza from a bloke who was once called by a suspected terrorist.
Coming up with metadata conclusions like this requires huge data warehousing and a complete pattern of spying. The NSA needs to look at the metadata of everyone.
However even if the US pulls its finger out and stops the retention of different levels of metadata collection, some of the proposed laws, such as the USA Freedom Act only skims the surface.
It would not stop the NSA inserting vulnerabilities into computer software and drivers, to be exploited later to surreptitiously intercept private communications. It will also not stop them collecting foreign metadata.