What your metadata really says about you...

Ever since Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the NSA, we've heard politicians and agency officials claim that collecting metadata isn't spying. But, two MIT students have created a program to help you understand the digital trail that you leave behind everyday. Daniel Smilkov and Deepak Jagdish's “Immersion” program creates a virtual map of your life using only your email account. If you give the researchers access to the same metadata that the NSA admits to collecting – the time, date, and “To” and “CC” fields of your email – they can give you back detailed charts and graphs about your life.

Using just this data, the program can identify things like your former loves, your changing personal and professional networks, and even deaths and transitions that you've experienced during your life. Agency officials have tried to claim that metadata is simply IP and phone numbers, but this “Immersion” program clearly shows that those claims couldn't be further from the truth.

There's simply no question that collecting metadata and tracking our digital lives is a major violation of our privacy. The fact is that the government doesn't need to listen to our calls, or read the content of our emails, to get a clear picture of our daily lives. The National Security Agency needs to recognize that our phone and internet metadata is private, and if they want to collect it, it's time that they get a warrant.


Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 10 years 28 weeks ago

Those fascist snoops will see that I recently ordered a copy of Jeremy Scahill's Dirty Wars documentary from Amazon. (I highly recommend it, folks.) As to the rest of my "metadata" getting scrutinized, I'm not happy about that. But I refuse to live my life in fear of what "they" might think or do. Like I wrote in one of my journals years ago: I know this isn't a "free" country, but I intend to live as though it were. - AIW

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 10 years 28 weeks ago

This discussion seems like a distraction from Snowden's main message. I thought that message was a private corporation could look at every detail of our communications. The documentary "Client 9" illustrates how destructive that can be. I almost feel relieved that the government can look at my private life because we have checks and balances on them. Remember I said "almost".

ckrob's picture
ckrob 10 years 28 weeks ago

I think there is a difference in data collected on email vis-a-vis phone calls. Only metadata are collected on phone calls but email has actual content gathered in addition to the metadata. Does anyone have info to the contrary?

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 28 weeks ago

Yes, go ahead and enter your email address into some app, may as well do a Google search on your real name and even do a search on your bank account numbers as well. ;-0 Just be sure to enter your bank account numbers into the little boxes to see if anyone has stolen it. Ha! Ha! Guess what...the jokes on you!

Do you ever get phone calls telling you that their Security company has detected viruses coming from your computer? Have you ever gotten phone calls from an Area Code that isn't even valid?...like 474? Do a search on area code 474 and see what you come up with..try Wikipedia Area Codes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_North_American_Numbering_Plan_area_...
"474: originally was assigned for numbering relief to 306 in Saskatchewan, but it was changed to 639. It is not used now."

Yet, I received one just today...nope..I never answer phone numbers I don't recognize...then I try to find who they are on the internet. They are always telemarketing scammers.

Have you ever gotten phone calls saying there is something wrong with you bank account...just verify that you are who you are and enter that sensitive information into the little boxes. Do you ever use web sites like MyLife to search for people...maybe for people you may not want them to know that you are searched for them....yet, you discover later that your name is listed right along as an association to the person you searched for?

I just checked out a web site in Russia that had many, many pages of listings of email addresses. I'm sure the NSA has billions of them. I have also seen lists of real names, bank names, account numbers and balances in those accounts listed on the internet that were for sale.

I remember something about the FBI putting up a site you could go to to check to see if you had gotten a certain virus some time back..a couple of years ago...I believe. What a great way for the FBI to collect personal data from their victims.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 28 weeks ago

You don't even need such a program as Thom describes...there is so much personal tracking data provided in just doing a search on Obituary web sites. Obits usually tells who all of the surviving relatives are...and their spouses and children. Newspaper archives also give a lot of information on people. And that's just the free stuff...even without hacking....and there's plenty more.

Some state government sites show traffic and misdemeanor information on it's residents. Aren't they swell?

sandlewould's picture
sandlewould 10 years 28 weeks ago

Thom, a bit off topic...I have to say how pleased I was that you had Kshama Sawant on your show today. I honestly think that if you, through your considerable influence and reach began promoting getting involved in her organization as much as you promote getting involved in the dem. party, we might actually be able to change the tidal wave of plutocracy. Thank you so VERY much!!

stecoop01's picture
stecoop01 10 years 28 weeks ago

This might be a little off-topic, but I think there should be a law requiring that businesses who sell information about their customers should have to pay a royalty to the persons the information is about, regardless of the nature or quantity of the information.

Personal info sales is big business; it's about time we the people who that info is about profitted from those sales.

sandlewould's picture
sandlewould 10 years 28 weeks ago

GREAT Idea...but trying to squeeze the $$ out of them would be very challenging indeed

sharon and rick's picture
sharon and rick 10 years 28 weeks ago

We need all remember, which apparently not a single judge has thought about, is that -- this is a violation of our right to free association without government spying on with who we associate without probable cause of wrongdoing. Second, what did J. Edgar Hoover use this kind of information for, to suggest to Martin Luther King he committ suicide because of his flings with women not his wife. This is exactly why our government collects this information, to blackmail you if you challenge their conduct. I.e., to shut you up!

sharon and rick's picture
sharon and rick 10 years 28 weeks ago

We need to think hard and long about passing laws to force phone companies to destroy this information after a few months.

Arlene's picture
Arlene 10 years 28 weeks ago

It is so naive of people to say, as they constantly do, that they 'have nothing to worry about, that they have done nothing wrong.' But say someone want something you have. Information is power, and it can be used for all kinds of nefarious purposes. We are all vulnerable to blackmail of some kind. Privacy is our protection, and we need to protect it.

Kend's picture
Kend 10 years 28 weeks ago

Really Alice but you tell me to shut up. WOW.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 10 years 28 weeks ago

That's right Kend. You reserve the right to chastise and patronize us, while I reserve the right to tell you to shut the hell up. - AIW

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 10 years 28 weeks ago
Quote Kend:Really Alice but you tell me to shut up. WOW.

Kend ~ Come on buddy, you know Alice isn't the only person to have ever told you to shut up. So, what is your point? You think that because she doesn't care if she's spied on that she shouldn't mind listening to you? Have you ever listened to yourself?

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 10 years 28 weeks ago

Marc, you have this uncanny tendency to post at the exact moments I do. It really is amazing.

ErinRose's picture
ErinRose 10 years 28 weeks ago

I agree. These businesses have laid claim to us and our information like we are things instead of people. Their message is that they own us. I resent these squatters in our lives. That information belongs to us and they have no business hijacking it for their pecuniary gain any more than someone has the right to pirate songs from musicians. It just goes to show you how corrupt our government has become that they not only stand back while the rape happens, but that they participate in it as well.

And I totally support Thom when he says they need to get a warrant. Just the exercise of having to go to the courts and get a warrant puts up a barrier between us and the predators.

Kend's picture
Kend 10 years 28 weeks ago

I think we all believe in the freedom of speech. Don't we?

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 10 years 28 weeks ago
Quote Kend:I think we all believe in the freedom of speech. Don't we?

Kend ~ Of course we do! You can say anything you want, Kend. So can anyone else. If they chose to tell you to "shut the hell up", don't you believe they have that right too? It doesn't mean you have to.

Fgholam2's picture
Fgholam2 10 years 28 weeks ago

Yes they must have a warrant, but it is too late now, they already have all the info, we the people now should have access to all the data they collected on us, we have to make a new law, based on the constitution, that each one of us have the right to review our files in their computer/s, we should be able to get a printout of what they know about us, and make it illegal to be used against us as long as we are citizens of this country. We need to know who are all the workers they had hired to do the data collections, their addresses, and what nationalitythey are. It is also time to take on the Media, get it back from corporate, The Media is ours, we want the truth, should be working for us for our well being, all the time and for no one else, us the people, in the US and the world. If it is true we are the 99%, we should be able to get all that done in no time, we are the power, we have the key, if the media don't work for us, then we shut it down, if 99% of the people shut their TV. and radio off, they go out of business, if the 99% don't like their kids to go fight to get corporations richer and us poorer and lose our kids lives for them we stop all wars and bring our kids home. If we want $0.50 a gallon of gas we stop driving for a while. There are few good people in the Government, but if they just talk and say they are with us, it is not enough, they should be the ones to organize us, and lead us through a revolution to get things right. If Obama is the commander and Chief, and the republicans getting rich off war, and taking abolishing our constitution, the Banks, wall street and all taking advantage of us, and living off the military, and if they really giving Obama hard time, won't let him pass any proposal he comes out with, why the hell doesn't he call off all wars and bring all our troops home? he is the Commander and Chief, isn't he? or is he in the same game? or are all Democrats ripping us off the same way the republicans do when they are in office? are the republicrats taking turns screwing us? Come on now we are the power, Power of the people, we are the Super and only power in the world. No UN, no NATO, No New World order, just shut them all down. We want to live Happy and Free, and we haveall the rights to have that.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 10 years 28 weeks ago

Kend, try not dishing it out if you can't take it. And please, spare us the whimpering! Get a grip.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 10 years 28 weeks ago

With 70% of the Spy Industrial Complex now privatized it would be quite naive of NSA administation, to assume there are not anymore Snowden's already within their ranks. As a new employee, in less than three months Snowden had the ability to wiretap anyone in the country, including fascists like Chris Christie. The fascists will reap what they sow when it comes to anti-union, anti-democracy privatization. Trust me, there are already those within the spy network who have a true sense of what liberty and freedom stand for.

Remember it's still all about money....you need war to feed the military industrial complex and terror to feed the spy complex. It's like trying to get rid of the obsolete combustible gas engine, money, power, and greed keep it viable.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 10 years 28 weeks ago

Aliceinwonderland; I don't keep up with replys like I should, sorry bout that. Anyway, I don't really burn rubber anymore, that was three or four decades ago, a sub six mile is about it. I do run everyday, weather isn't a factor. By the way, Oregon is a sacred place to we distance runners, you're lucky to live there.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 28 weeks ago
Quote Fgholam2: or are all Democrats ripping us off the same way the republicans do when they are in office? are the republicrats taking turns screwing us?
I believe that you are correct on this one...and I also believe that the Democrats will propose a lot of things that is meant to impress the people but know that those proposals won't ever see the light of day....which is why they proposed them in the first place..for the propaganda effect. Both parties now represent the 1% and not the 99% and they are merely playing mind games of "blame the other guys" while they ratchet up more control and wealth accumulation by the wealthy 1%. So, yes, they are taking turns screwing us!

It's time for us to get off the two party bandwagon and either vote for a third party headed by people like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders...or do something more physical than merely voting. Until that happens...nothing will change for the good of the 99%..the fascists will continue to consolidate their power and before long they'll be forcing some of us into the gas chambers (literally, or at least figuratively). The Nazis robbed their victims of everything they had before they killed them...the same may befall us in the US as well... no matter what our ethnicity, beliefs, or convictions. Yes, even those sorry sap suckers who have been conned into believing in right wing nonsense will be shoved into the "gas chambers and ovens" right along with those of us who were never dumb enough to believe that the US exists under a democracy. Democracy in the US is a lie!

Democracy in the US is long dead. The only way to revive democracy in the US is to break the chains of the two-party system or do as other citizens of other countries have done when they came to realize that their 1% were driving them into their graves. They set the example! History sets the example! Nothing else really works. Tzars and Kings and Dictators had to be toppled by the people. And the ruling elite...the 1%....need to be toppled....for a change...a change we really can, this time, believe in.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 28 weeks ago


"Rather than protecting clients, it reveals their identity to every website they visit.

Surf Wall Remote (SWR) injects an extra string into the browser user agent, that personally identifies the visitor. "


Who can we trust anymore? But as Steve Gibson of Security Now....."TRUST NO ONE!" ...maybe not even yourself.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 10 years 28 weeks ago

10-K, I hope there's a thousand more Snowdens imbedded in that network, as you've suggested. Seems inevitable, doesn't it! However there still remains one major hurdle: anyone who considers blowing their cover has to be willing to sacrifice any stability they have in their lives, and be willing to spend the rest of their days in isolation, hiding and on the run. That's a huge sacrifice.

You're damn right these wars are about money! Kinda puts a different spin on that old slogan conservatives love so much: "Freedom isn't free". The more "enemies" and "terrorists" our corporatized government can create, the easier it is to justify keeping us in perpetual war, which keeps the weapons manufacturers and for-profit mercenaries very happy. Especially while there's all these third world countries with oil, minerals and other natural resources left for them to steal, too small and weak to fight back. Those corporate fascists must be in pig heaven. These are the thoughts that stuck in my mind as I watched Jeremy Scahill's Dirty Wars the other night. - Aliceinwonderland

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 10 years 28 weeks ago

Palin -- As an example, why do believe that when Nancy P and her fellow dems passed the Employee Free Choice Act they thought it would never see the light of day? I think it would have seen the light of day if the Repugs would not have fought against Al Franken's confirmation and if Ted Kennedy would not have gotten cancer. The AHCA and the consumer bill did pass. They both were watered down by the fascist dems, but Obama had enough left in them to change the economic course of the USA.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 28 weeks ago

The NSA paid RSA $10 million to get them to accept an encryption standard that is so weak it is tantamount to a back door.

Stephen Colbert urged to cancel speech for NSA-linked privacy firm RSA

NSA capabilities in a 2008 catelog: "DropoutJeep is a software implant for the Apple iPhone that uses modular mission applications to provide specific SIGINT functionality. This functionality includes the ability to remotely push/pull files from the device. SMS retrieval, contact list retrieval, voicemail, geolocation, hot mic, camera capture, cell tower location, et cetera. Command, control, and data exfiltration can occur over SMS messaging" - okay, slowly - "or a GPRS data connection. All communications with the implant will be covert and encrypted." Don't we wish our own communications with an iPhone were."


This story also from that grc.com link above:
A woman assistant had gotten one of those fake FBI warnings that said that they found child porn on her computer and that if she didn't send them money she would be arrested. Along with photos of real child porn that they claim they found on her computer was a photo of her sitting at her computer. This, of course, is a very insidious scam that certainly doesn't come from the FBI. And the photos, except for her sitting in front of her computer, was not really on her computer except when the scammers sent them. The scary thing is that what they did was activate her web cam taking her photo and using that as a way to forge authenticity of their claims. There are other similar scams as well...some say they are from other law enforcement agencies like the NSA or Federal US Courts and others. Just put a post-it over the web cam hole. It won't keep them from sending these scams but at least they won't get your photo. Definitely, never send money to these scammers!

It has been discovered that a number of brands of home modem/routers (access points) have a back door on port 32764. Here's one way to check to see if you are affected:
Enter this into your browser URL box to have 'Security Now' probe for that port: (note: if you are hesitant to do this...than good for you...but you can check this out by searching on 'Security Now' and grc (gibson research
corporation). The reference to doing this is on the latest transcript of the show #437...go down to page 19 of 35)*


If the ShieldsUP web page that displays saying "Probing Your Port 32764" doesn't have a status of "Stealth" then it indicates that your router has this vulnerability. If it doesn't say "Stealth", you can go to your firewall and write a "rule" to block that port. Mine said "Stealth". "Stealth is good!"

You can also go to this web site: https://github.com/elvanderb/TCP-32764

to see a list of routers that have been found to have this "back door". It is mostly Netgear, Linksys, Cisco and a couple of Belkins and a couple of other lesser known routers.

* https://www.grc.com/sn/sn-437.pdf (page 19 of 35)

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 28 weeks ago

chuckle8:In 2008, then Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.), an original co-sponsor of the Act, proclaimed:

We will pass the Employee Free Choice Act. It's not a matter of if—it's a matter of when. We may have to wait for the next President to sign it, but we will get this thing done.

Soon after "the next President" was elected, Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, including a Senate super-majority, and were unable to overcome bipartisan opposition to the bill. Labor leaders subsequently pushed a number of compromise efforts and alternative approaches -- none of which ultimately gained any traction. The Huffington Post's Sam Stein pointed out today on Twitter that Trumka's 2012 boast echoes similar predictions from cycles past -- most recently before the 2010 elections. But not only did all of the AFL-CIO's 2008-2010 political activity not succeed in passing EFCA in the 110th Congress, it helped elect the 111th -- in a wave election which created a significant Republican opposition in the House. Anything can happen in elections, but if 60 Senate seats and a House majority was not enough to pass EFCA in the 110th Congress, it is not very likely that the bill's prospects will fare much better in the 113th -- or even 114th.


So whatever happened to EFCA? The revised bill got stalled and sidetracked in 2009 due to the uncertainty of having enough yes votes in the Senate to bring the bill to a vote and the White House’s primary focus on passing Health Insurance Reform first. Now with Immigration Reform and the Fiscal Cliff- Sequestering on the front burners and Employee Free Choice Act on the backburner, it’s uncertain how long it will take a revised bill to be passed by the current 113th Congress.


And the Health Insurance Reform, the ACA, was really just a givaway to HealthScare Insurance..a way to have the government force everyone to pay premiums...albeit..subsidized ones in many cases..while having the taxpayers pick up the bill for the subsidies. It was a way to derail single payer which is what everyone really wanted.
Audio recording secret call to defeat employee free choice act by bank of america!

by toxic · November 9, 2013

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 10 years 27 weeks ago

Pali--ary -- Once again the dems only had control of both houses for 13 weeks. The house passed the EFCA and the senate filibustered it because Ted Kennedy had departed. If the senate had 67 dems or so, it seems highly probable that the EFCA would have passed. Also IMO, the bills to stop granting waivers against the Buy American Act of 1936 would have passed, as well as, the bill to stop giving tax credits to companies for shipping jobs overseas. That is only 3 of the 390 or so bils the senate filibustered. The probability of being able to elect 67 dems to the senate is, IMO, very low. However, I think it is very high compared to creating a 3rd party, based on historical precedence. As DaM as pointed out there was a successful creation of a 3rd party with Abe. Unfortunately, it led to the civil war and 15 years after that the oligarchs usurped it.

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