Richard Bucker

NSA versus the web

Posted at — Jun 23, 2013

I’m not sure how I feel about the government listening to my calls or even recording them for a future that will permit listening or listening my robot. However, in my opinion this is completely different from the topic of monitoring the CDR (call data records) of the calls being made.

First of all. Who owns the communication infrastructure? Well, I think that used to be the government. And if not directly that own it by granting licensing for spectrum, right of way, and in some cases funding for R&D that lead to the ventures. The same is/was true for the postal network.

Secondly, we voluntarily give buckets of information to the various commercial companies. Search, smartphone telemetry, any website you access, cookies, advertisers, photos with GPS. The bigger advertisers know more about you than you realize. And then there is concept of six degrees – added to LinkedIn, Facebook, Google and so on… Not much privacy there.

Third. The Call Data Record, by my definition, is no different than the envelope in the traditional mail system. In most cases you know where the envelope originated and where it’s going. And which post office it entered into the system. The amazing thing is that the CDR is almost identical to the envelope in that the “from” address can be faked just as easily.

Fourth. The legal definition of privacy is wishy washy and originally framed before the invention of super telephoto lenses and laser microphones. In the past, however, these tools cost so much that they were only available to the elite few that could afford it. Now with the six figure paydays for the paparazzi and the creation of a retail market the prices are dropping.

Finally, the NSA, FBI and CIA have probably been tripping over the various boundaries since their inception. But what does that really mean?

So what is privacy and is it really eroding? The only absolute privacy is achieved by keeping your thoughts to yourself. Even though communication with your legal spouse and legal representative is supposed to be protected… if it’s overheard it may be used against you in the court of public opinion.

The real problem that we all struggle with is twofold. (a) foreign terrorists and (b) domestic terrorists. What tools should law enforcement have in order protect law abiding citizens foreign and domestic?