The security agencies at the centre of the mass international surveillance scandal have tried to pass off the information they collect on citizens as being inconsequential and very basic.
The truth tells a different story.
In Germany, Green party politician, Malte Spitz, sued telecom giant Deutche Telkon to obtain all the data the company had collected about him over a six month period relating to his mobile phone useage.
This ‘metadata’ was combined with other publically available information such as Spitz’s Twitter feed, information on websites, and blog posts, then compiled into mapping data by Zeit Online.
The compiling of the information provides a profile of Spitz for the six month period. The data covers travel (walking, driving, trains, and air journeys) – where he visited and for how long – when he was awake and when he was asleep, times when his phone was active, times when he preferred to make a call or send a text message, and habitual behaviour, such as regular places he liked to visit for leisure activities and when.
The information Zeit Online was able to obtain from Spitz’s Twitter feed and other online sources was freely available, including many of his appointments which were on the Green Party’s website.
Being a politician, perhaps there is more publically available data than for the average person, but a surveillance organisation such as the NSA or GCHQ has access to masses of information on every citizen which will provide a very detailed picture of a person’s life.
The information Zeit Online used was only from his mobile phone use. When we think about how we interact with computers and other equipment in our homes and workplaces, it is easy to see how the security services can compile very accurate information about our every movement, lifestyle, and financial habits.
You can see the information Zeit Online compiled, and use the interactive map. Spitz gave permission for the information to be made public to demonstrate how easy creating a profile for every citizen is.
Visit the Zeit Online page here.
When you have looked at the data and run through some of the map (keep an eye on the right-hand pane of the map for detailed information at any particular time) you will know why the mass surveillance of the Big Brother state should worry you. Anything can happen in the future.