Obama! NSA! Spying! Privacy! Wiretapping! OMG! FREAK OUT!!!!

Example connection graph

Example connection graph

It’s very important that we all FREAK OUT now that we know that the NSA has data about our phone calls. Nobody  needed to freak out when Bush was president, and here is the explanation why.


“The NSA is not actually collecting the content of phone calls. It is only aggregating metadata: in other words, information about who called whom, and when, and how long the call lasted, related geographic locations, and so on.  Although this information is personal in the sense that it can be used to figure out who you are, it’s not actually listening in on your calls per se.  It’s not wiretapping.  They just want to look at overall patterns of calling in order to detect suspicious activity, such as a high volume of calls made to people already under suspicion.  If they see a suspicious pattern, they can then get a court order to request something more invasive, like an actual wiretap.”

The type of data we are talking about is the type of data that is already available to the public for social media connections on the internet. For example, the graph above was created showing the social media connections for a person (“Derrick Harris”) on LinkedIn. Mr. Harris presents this graph in his article, Here’s how the NSA analyzes all that call data,  where he describes exactly how graphs like this might be used by the NSA to analyze telephone call data.  As you can see, it shows patterns of connections… but doesn’t actually show any content about “who said what to whom”, or anything like that. All kinds of social media relationships and interactions are already out there and available to the public, and large companies are already doing data mining on those data sets in order to sell you stuff.  Nobody is screaming about that… or at least, nobody is paying much attention to those who do.

“Therefore,” the Republican argument during the Bush presidency went, “there is no need to freak out.”

Some people agreed with this argument, and some did not; but the important thing is: All of the Republicans agreed with it!



“Everything is totally different now! This is spying! How dare he!  Impeach! Abuse of power! Hitler! Derp!”

Obviously, there couldn’t possibly be any sort of ulterior motive going on here: Republicans simply care about your privacy now, and their arguments and rationale before were…. well, all that’s in the past!

It’s all part of “reinventing the GOP image“, don’t ya know?


graph found viaHere’s how the NSA analyzes all that call data