Saturday, December 7, 2013

Private Eyes Are Watching You

“I’ve misplaced my phone again,” my friend Stallion said. “I don’t know why they call it a smart phone; it’s always getting lost.”

“There’s an app for that, you know.” I had learned there was an application for just about everything on the Internet, other than a “happy” app that would finally make those annoying angry birds happy.

“What’s it called?” Stallion asked.

“Private Eyes Are Watching You. Just think of the old Hall and Oates song. You can download it from the NSA Website.”

“The National Security Administration has an app for finding misplaced mobile phones?” Stallion asked in surprise.

“Why, sure. It makes sense. The government mandated every mobile phone have a GPS chip inside. It can locate any cell phone on Earth in seconds.”

“But suppose someone has stolen my phone. It could be anywhere in the world by now.”

“No problem!  The NSA collects data on the location of five billion mobile phones worldwide, every single day! They have a database that stores the physical locations of hundreds of millions of smart phones and tablets. I’m sure your device is already in the NSA database.”

“You mean, for years, the NSA has known where I’ve gone and whom I’ve phoned or texted?”

“Sure. Using your own phone, the NSA can retrace your movements and expose hidden relationships among people you call or text. The NSA software triangulates calls based on the location of the nearest cell towers. Its powerful analytical tool called CO-TRAVELER searches for known associates by tracking individuals whose movements intersect. But don’t worry; I’m sure they’d never tell your wife. Well, pretty sure.”

“You mean the NSA is tracking my visits to doctors, private business meetings… even hotel rooms? That sucks.”

“Well, you had to realize your smart phone would rat you out, one day. Mobile phones broadcast their location even when you’re not sending calls or texts. You’re walking around with a homing beacon in your pocket, dude.”

“Still, I’m sure the government must need that data to track terrorists.”

”Sure. After all, 5 million phones a day times 365 days in a year… how many terrorists would you say that makes out there? Already, the NSA database has filled 27 terabytes—twice the size of the text content in the Library of Congress’s print collection. But that’s just a start – according to The Washington Post, NSA Chief Keith Alexander said an even broader collection of such data "may be something that is a future requirement for the country". The NSA's FASCIA database stores trillions of device location records and metadata. I'm sure they can help find your lost phone." 

“Still, that’s kind of creepy.”

“If you think that’s creepy, you should check out”

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