Not-So-Private Metadata- On the Media

This segment of on the media discussed the release of the NSA’s controversial surveillance program and the fact that many Americans feel it is violation the privacy of individuals, while the NSA claims they are only accessing Metadata therefore it is non violating any privacy. The NSA cannot see who is calling who, they claim all they are looking for is dates and numbers of calls. The law permits the NSA to track the contacts of the numbers that people are dialing. referring to this as a “hop”. This means that one a number is called they can hop to that number and then access all their contacts. An unlimited amounts of hops can be made, which to me is frightening but can also be seen in a positive light. Some situations listed in this segment could be seen as negative and positive. One positive example to me was when they caught a criminal. The intelligence agencies did this because they saw that he was calling a lumber yard, lock smith and bong shop so clearly he was planning to open up marijuana farm. In this scenario one can infer that tracking these calls can be a good thing and prevent crime. But, in other circumstances it seems that the call tracking is overall just an invasion of privacy. For example, in one situation they track a call of a woman ending her pregnancy. She first called her sister, then the local planned parenthood organization of the course of a few months which would match the appointments of terminating a pregnancy. Another invasion of privacy is the fact that the intelligence agencies are making inferences about people simply based off their calls such as romantic relationships, legal issues, religious status or financial status. clearly privacy risks are arising from the availability of this information and how it us being used, as mentioned in On the Media. Overall, I can sees why professionals would like to study this information in order to track human behavior and make conclusions based off of that tracking but I think it is being used inapropritately and is extremely invasive.  This is evident in their conclusions regarding the woman and her pregnancy or even the assumptions about someone’s religion or socioeconomic status based merely off a phone call. One cannot make a concrete conclusion based off solely a phone call; therefore these intelligence agencies are breaking our privacy for essentially no reason considering they are not making concrete conclusions from them. 

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