Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Is Everybody Spying On Us?

We already know that every ad network in the world traces every web site we visit. But it's amazing to hear about how many requests for phone line and Internet surveillance the major communications companies receive from law enforcement and government agencies.

Verizon alone says that the company receives “tens of thousands” of requests annually for customer records and information from law enforcement agencies, according to an article in Wired.

In October, Sprint apparently served more than 8 million law enforcement requests for GPS data from mobile phones used by subscribers. That’s one request for every 6 people on the network. (WM Power)

The National Security Agency routinely examines "large volumes of Americans’ e-mail messages without court warrants." New York Times

Verizon, Cox Communications, Comcast, Yahoo and the others make a mint providing spying services to the government. Cox Communications, for example, charges $3,500 for the first 30 days of a wiretap, according to Wired. Yahoo refused to release how much it charges because it might "lead to impairment of its reputation for protection of user privacy and security." (heh)

Your friends, employees or business partners may be spying on you through your cell phone as well. According to the National Terror Alert blog, a security consultancy in Gloucester, Massachusetts puts the number of tapped phones in the U.S. at 3 percent -- that does not include government tapping. Your iPhone app may be spying on you, too.

Put that together with the psychological information that credit card companies compile about you from your buying habits (New York Times and Huffington Post), plus what your digital video recorder reveals about your TV habits, what your Internet use reveals about your state of mind and the information your rented car sends back to base, you're probably being tracked night and day.

Even your printer may be tracking you. Or your shoes!

By the way, we really like that shirt you're wearing. Is it new?

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.


Lucien said...

One thing worth noting is that if you dig back down into the original source, and not the headline, the person from Sprint said that their web server for real-time GPS tracking had 8 million requests over the course of a year. Given that typical 'map' page consists of many individual images, and that it would be updating constantly in real-time, I think it is fair to say the actual number of _individuals_ tracked is many orders of magnitude lower.

mcbrooklyn said...

Lucien, are you saying that the authorities are sending in multiple requests for the same person in order to track them over time?

Lucien said...

The requests referred to are page/images requests - the browser does that automatically to update the map & location of the phone. A whole set of these are made every 30 seconds or so to display the information in near-real time. Thus, if you tracked a single phone for an hour, I wouldn't be surprised to see tens of thousands of web requests due to this.

It's really not much more than something like the 'find my iPhone', but for law enforcement.

mcbrooklyn said...

Oh, I sort of get it. That makes sense. BTW, I tried to go back to the audio (the original link)and it appears to be "locked." (Wasn't yesterday.)