How the NSA Can Use Metadata to Predict Your Personality


Patrick Tucker
Defense One
March 29, 2014

The NSA wants to absorb every bit of information on everyone. Credit: EFF via Wiki

The NSA wants to absorb every bit of information on everyone. Credit: EFF via Wiki


The president and congressional leaders want to end NSA bulk metadata collection, but not the use of metadata, which may even be expanded. From a technical perspective, the question of what your metadata can reveal about you, or potential enemies, remains as important as it was since the Edward Snowden scandal. The answer is more than you might think.

First, the background. On Thursday, the Obama administration released a brief statement on ending the collection of metadata and limiting, slightly, the circumstances under which metadata could be accessed. The timing was in keeping with a self-imposed deadline to create legislation to address NSA bulk collection. The statement said “the government will not collect these telephone records in bulk; rather, the records would remain at the telephone companies for the length of time they currently do today.”

Two leaders of the House Intelligence Committee, Reps. Michael Rogers, R-Mich., and Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., are also putting forward a proposal, called the “End Bulk Collection Act,” which would likewise seek to switch the collection of bulk metadata collection from the NSA to phone companies.

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