Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Stanford's MetaPhone Project: Crowdsourcing Metadata To Challenge the NSA

Soulskill posted about 8 months ago | from the give-up-your-privacy-to-fight-for-your-privacy dept.

Privacy 96

An anonymous reader writes "'When the first NSA surveillance story broke in June,' writes Dennis Fisher at Threatpost, 'most people likely had never heard the word metadata before. Even some security and privacy experts weren't sure what the term encompassed.' The NSA and its supporters have, of course, emphasized that phone records collection is 'not surveillance.' Researchers at Stanford are now crowdsourcing data to incontrovertibly establish just how much the NSA knows. 'Phone metadata is inherently revealing,' says a study author. 'We want to rigorously prove it—for the public, for Congress, and for the courts.' If you have an Android phone and a Facebook account, you can grab the MetaPhone app on Google Play."

cancel ×

96 comments

And I'm all out of gum! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45418289)

I'm making chicken for dinner = I've arrived at my 1st location
Don't forget to purchase the large trampoline = I'm returning
The fridge just stopped making ice cubes = I'm masturbating

Hmm (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45418295)

Nice try, NSA

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45418511)

Nice try, NSA

Give me a break. You think the worlds largest intelligence agency needs to put on any kind of front whatsoever to obtain your data?

Apparently Snowden bitch-slapping people directly with a fistful of illegal court orders isn't enough to smack the ignorance out of the sheeple.

If you're paranoid, they already know. And yeah, metadata in aggregate can likely show that too.

Re:Hmm (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45418825)

Did they smack the sense of humor out of you?

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45419197)

girlintraining strikes again!

Re: Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420535)

I would like proof they are just collecting meta data. There storage requirements as well as some other things they have said point to much more. Not to mention in order to obtain some metadata requires deep packet inspection. Which is much easier to do on a carptured stream.

If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (5, Insightful)

hsmith (818216) | about 8 months ago | (#45418307)

Why would you give it out to anyone else?

I understand their point, but uh no.

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45418355)

No kidding, couldn't they just get some grants to pay for this information? Or maybe just do the experiment on themselves and extrapolate from there. Seems like a stupid idea.

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (5, Insightful)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | about 8 months ago | (#45418381)

Because we (used to) have a reasonable expectation that private conversations would remain private, and in the 21st Century, things like phone calls are needed to, well, live. There's no fucking reason the NSA needs metadata about my call to Grandma. It's private and I don't want them to have it. Why? Because fuck you, that's why. And decades of horrible precedent have distorted the meaning of "legal" so that the 4th Amendment is able to be ignored by anyone in gov't who wishes to do so. It's time to start over.

Re: If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (4, Funny)

alen (225700) | about 8 months ago | (#45418435)

Hi, I work for the NSA
I just checked and I know for a fact that you rarely call your grandma. In fact I see she calls you and you don't pick up

I sent a note to your local police department to harass you until you call her. And I set your phone on autodial her number to help you out

Re: If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (1)

postbigbang (761081) | about 8 months ago | (#45419157)

That knock on your door? It's 300 pizzas. Have a nice day. Those new car payments, well, this Lambo's going to be fun to drive around until we crash it and leave your ID with it. And don't worry about the photoshopped pics of you on your Linked-in profile. Just a little fun.

Re: If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421237)

Are you going to throw toilet paper around his front yard as well?

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45418945)

And decades of horrible precedent have distorted the meaning of "legal" so that the 4th Amendment is able to be ignored by anyone in gov't who wishes to do so. It's time to start over.

I don't think it's necessary to start over, as The Constitution does provide a great framework.

Perhaps what is needed is an Article V Convention [wikipedia.org] to iron out a few of the problems. An amendment to entirely disband the NSA and prohibit the creation of any agency with a similar purpose might be a good start. Follow up with an amendment to absolutely prohibit all trade with any country having a local equivalent to the NSA.

Don't be fooled, it won't be the end of spying. The roaches exposed with these amendments will simply flee to darker shadows and try to keep it even more secret. That's just part of fighting the good fight.

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (4, Insightful)

Loki_1929 (550940) | about 8 months ago | (#45419369)

That won't do it. What you need to do is put some teeth in the Constitution. Simply define any violation of the Constitution by an agent or employee of the government as treason and put every non-unanimous SCOTUS decision to a popular vote. If 4/5 of voters agree that one side or the other obviously violated the Constitution with their opinion (be it the winning or losing side), they also go on trial for treason.

Kiss that rubber stamp from the courts goodbye. No more Citizens United or Kelo decisions. And good luck getting any sizable number of people on board with blatantly illegal activities that violate the Constitution when everyone who participates in any way in anything questionable is risking their lives. Today, anyone can willfully disregard the highest law of the land with no consequence. The higher up they are, the larger and more grand their golden parachute is should they ever be required to take a dive for the folks upstairs. Watch in utter amazement how few government lawyers will jump to write position papers defending secret surveillance, detainment, and torture of US citizens when doing so is automatic treason.

And who handles the prosecution and holds the trial? A semi-random group of citizens selected automatically for the task. No more inside group who would never go after one another. No more buddy-buddy side deals that make everything go away because they're from the right family or have the right connections. Just regular people applying common sense and decency to keep everyone in government in line. You walk the straight and narrow or the citizens come calling.

Anything less, you can forget it working. These idiots responded to "the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" by banning guns and they responded to "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated" by launching secret surveillance programs to watch us every minute of every day to the greatest extend currently possible.

If you think this is all coming from a lack of clarity, then you haven't been paying attention. It's coming from a lack of consequences.

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (2, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 8 months ago | (#45419469)

I've been called a nut job here on /. and elsewhere for suggesting that the biggest flaw the founding fathers made was
forgetting the teeth in the Constitution. Glad I'm not the only one waking up to the realization that this is a serious
failure. They simply didn't consider that courts would be as corruptible as the rest of government.

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (2)

kermidge (2221646) | about 8 months ago | (#45420809)

Well, that, and, cynical about their fellow men as they were, they couldn't conceive that the citizenry would be so lax in their duties as to let things get so far out of whack. The "common man", as stupid (that's asleep, in old speak; oblivious in the new), parochial, and lazy outside their own very narrow immediate situation, still had some balls back then. Even, on rare occasions, some sense of duty towards the commonweal. Nowadays? Pfui.

As pointed out below, treason doesn't cover it. But things such as mis- and mal-feasance likely do, along with abuse of office, acting under color of authority, misappropriation of funds, etc. Set an ethical prosecutor loose and keep him, and the rest, accountable to that committee drawn from the public, as is done for jury duty. I expect we might want to avoid the guillotine or noose, though. Certainly the punishments should be strict enough pour encourager les autres; and, rather than country-club prisons, put 'em to work cleaning up roadsides and such - get some useful work out of the bastards.

Yeah, the world being as it is, we need some good intel on capabilities and intents, as always, human nature and nasty folks being what what they are, but even human nature can be worked on, and we have (or ought) police detectives for the bad actors (and on that note, abolish stings and entrapments.) What we don't need is 1984 on steroids.

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45423207)

Stupid Americans. Let's talk about that.

Back during the revolution, a group of over a 1000 citizens marched on the Governor of Massachusetts' house to lynch him and burn down his house (with his family inside of course). He met them on his front porch and they had a discussion. Then the 1000 men, armed with torches and a rope, listened to his argument as to why he should not be lynched, his family burned alive, took a vote and right there and then, decided to turn around and go home.

Americans today aren't reasonable enough to listen to the other side and actually pay attention (Listening to argue, rather than listening to understand)
Americans today aren't well enough informed (critical thinking skills? No, not so much, they just listen to whichever lies fit thier particular prejudices)
Americans today largely appear to be unable to think beyond the next 3 minutes, and only want to be left alone. None seem willing to consider the consequences of actions taken.

So, today we have cops shooting unarmed citizens to death with hundreds of bullets, after having been immobilized and the people of America do nothing.

We have a President who takes the head of a large lobbying organization and installs him as a watchdog on what he lobbied for

We have congress who gives not one fig for what is 'best for America' only about getting re-elected so they can have the power.

We have the Wealthy Liberal Democrats who have armed bodyguards and live in gated communities patrolled by private armed police telling us on TV that citizenry having access to weapons is criminal.

And of course we have our paranoid delusionals (I mean, CIA/NSA/etc) running amuck trying to ensure that they know the size, weight, chemical makeup and color of every citizens bowel movements for the past 5 years because if they don't, oh my God, think of the Terrorists that are among us!

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (1)

kermidge (2221646) | about 8 months ago | (#45431785)

Ah, yes, the Grand Old Republic. Nice, eh? I think you furnished a pretty good precis (if that's the right word.) And thanks, I'd clean forgotten the Mass. Guv thing.

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (1)

Xest (935314) | about 8 months ago | (#45421055)

Add teeth to the constitution is a meaningless act if those teeth are blunted by lack of feasibility of enforcement of whatever teeth you want to add in. It's already the case that your government is breaking the law by breaching the constitution because it's not enforced either because of a corrupt politically appointed judiciary or because of effective use of weasel words and interpretations of the law that make literally zero sense (sexual relations that aren't, but actually were).

What you actually need is a citizenship with the balls to hold it's government to account, coupled with a push for electoral reform to rework your entire electoral funding laws and push for a voting system that is more proportional and then the intelligence amongst your populace to vote for something other than the red or blue team.

The constitution is an irrelevant piece of script until you alter the hierarchy of power because whatever you get put into it, or to defend it will still continue to be ignored no matter how high the penalties. For higher penalties to matter you need a judiciary entirely independent on politics to enforce it, and you need a government with the accountability to not say "We broke the law and fuck you!" each time it does so. One of the best ways of enforcing accountability is with an electoral system that encourages coalition governments, because then all it takes is the majority party to push through something unpopular and a coalition partner to pull out making the government fall apart and force a new election because of that. The common argument against this (as put forward by David Cameron in the UK when arguing against electoral reform) is that it results in backroom deals (though he then went on to form a coalition) and perhaps it does, but it's still better than a minority dictating law against a majority and people will remember the effects of those backroom deals and just not vote for the parties who engineered them next time.

Here in the UK we've got the first coalition in decades and it's far far from perfect, but it's still way better than it would've been as a purely Conservative government, and it's still far better than a purely Labour government was and would have been. Nick Clegg fucked up royally with tuition fees allowing them to be charged at £9k but that's still better than the Tories wanted (their recommendation was £12k). It also means we didn't have the IMP pushed through which both a purely Labour and purely Conservative government both said they'd do. It's pretty clear that coalitions drastically improve things and move things away from the extremes which is the fundamental problem with US politics - it's dominated by extremists.

So change the constitution or don't, it doesn't matter either way, in fact it doesn't even matter that it exists until you deal with the core problem - complete lack of accountability at the top. What you need above absolutely anything else is electoral reform on the agenda both in terms of the way votes result in politicians being selected, and the way political funding and so forth are handled. Until you have that you'll be stuck with extremists fighting extremists with both parties shitting on the constitution and ignoring any legal repercussions they should in theory face.

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (1)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | about 8 months ago | (#45421675)

No, they did count on the courts being corruptible -- that's why we have three equal powered parts to the government. The Federalists, knew rightly that a weak central government was the quickest path to corruption. Like what we have now; states outbidding each other to lower standards for companies to move there.

When Clarence Thomas' wife made about $700,000 consulting for a Koch owned puppet company that was behind "Citizen's United" the justice department led by SOMEONE would have come on down on him like a Hammer and we'd be talking about impeachment. But that didn't happen. You've got whistle blowers and protestors seeing more jail time than all the bankers combined who "lost billions" and throw in torturers and war criminals.

The Constitution was a framework that's only as good as the people put in place to uphold it. IF it had teeth, those sharp pointy things would be employed against bloggers and Snowden right now.

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 8 months ago | (#45420107)

You can't do that. Treason is already defined in the Constitution (and your definition doesn't fit). You'd need a Constitutional amendment to change it.

Goodluckwiththat.

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45421723)

Love how you ignore the "A well regulated militia part"....

Contards and libertards love love love love love love love the holy holy holy holy constitution....

Except the parts they don't.

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45422381)

A quick quiz for you. Please choose which of the following is the actual text of the Second Amendment:

A) A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the Militia to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

B) A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45423319)

B obviously, though I've no idea what point you're trying to make.

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45423656)

Of course not. You've already settled on your reinterpretation, 200+ years of precedent be damned.

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45422611)

Scholars have debated that ad-nauseum. The "militia" part doesn't actually mean what gun-control fans want it to mean, and only extreme partisans argue the point. You're raising a point that's dead in reasonable debate. You're much better off arguing along the lines of "Times have changed and the constitution's interpretation should be malleable to match the current state of affairs." I wouldn't agree with you that the 2nd needs to be re-interpreted, but you would at least have a legitimate point of argument.

Libertards actually do stick to the constitution, and all of it. Conservatards and Libtards both fail on that account.

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45422579)

I agree with your general sentiment, but as to the specific rules on SCOTUS, I'd use this instead:

1) Do not allow SCOTUS to do anything unless they can get an 80% agreement between themselves - otherwise it's like the case was never heard, and no opinions, dissents, or rulings are issued.
2) Do not publish which justices voted which way on any votes, whether the 80% cutoff was reached or not. This removes a lot of potential to game the SCOTUS system in the long run, and it removes political pressure from the justices themselves to vote on party lines instead of their own consciences (yes, sadly, justices are affects by politics even after they're appointed).

Keep the treasony stuff for everyone else in government, but I don't think it's appropriate for the SCOTUS justices. I think the above would be enough on that front.

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (3, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 8 months ago | (#45419571)

I've heard more and more people calling for a constitutional convention. Guess what would happen, if one were convened, today?

RIAA, MPAA, and a multitude of "representatives" from the military industrial complex would rewrite the constitution for us. Right now those same players are writing some abomination that they refer to as the "Trans-Pacific Partnership". Of course, that "partnership" fails to invite common citizens into the discussions.

Think about what you're asking.

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 8 months ago | (#45420129)

We couldn't even muster enough to get an Amendment guaranteeing women suffrage. Hell, we can't pass legislation any more complex than determining parking ticket fines at the national level.

Any you think you can get a Constitutional Convention to do something so emotionally laden and complicated as spying? Might as well start with abortion (take either side, don't make a difference).

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 8 months ago | (#45422995)

Because we (used to) have a reasonable expectation that private conversations would remain private, and in the 21st Century, things like phone calls are needed to, well, live. There's no fucking reason the NSA needs metadata about my call to Grandma. It's private and I don't want them to have it. Why? Because fuck you, that's why. And decades of horrible precedent have distorted the meaning of "legal" so that the 4th Amendment is able to be ignored by anyone in gov't who wishes to do so. It's time to start over.

Except the metadata doesn't have anything about your call about Grandma. All it has is that a phone number called another phone number. Whether it was you at the first number and Grandma at the second isn't definitive. (Think of it like an IP address - if you called Grandma via VoIP, they see VoIP or VoIP-like traffic going from one IP to another. And we know how IPs cannot be linked to a computer, nevermind a person).

So your call to Grandma, all anyone knows is the phone numbers involved, and the duration. The contents and parties involved are still anonymous. Sure, if only you and grandma use the phone, you can infer stuff, but there's still a chance a visitor might use the phone.

Don't confuse data with metadata. In this case, the identities of the caller and callee and the contents of the call are data, obtainable via wiretap (or unencrypted VoIP, really). The details related to the call are the metadata.

The more you confuse the two, the less rational discussion can take place. And it leads to silly solutions like encrypting everything, when that does not affect metadata at all.

HTTP 2.0 SSL only? Well, geez, HTTP has a unique traffic fingerprint, and you still get details on the connection (source IP, destination IP, source port, destination port), bytes sent, traffic behavior, etc) that encryption does not hide. All it hides is the content. So whether you're getting a recipe for grandma's apple pies or bomb making plans cannot be determined.

Likewise encrypted e-mail, VoIP, etc. Something like Tor works, except you're limited to in-network traffic because he who controls exits can determine the nature of the traffic.

And no, encrypting the entire IP packet fails the obvious third party handling tests (a third party has to handle the packet - so they have to decrypt it which means the keys have to be known. That's why unencrypted broadcasts are perfectly OK (for those who complain there's no protection on stuff like ADS-B and AIS) because if others have to receive it, they need to decode it, so encrypting it with publicly known keys isn't really a benefit over just sending it cleartext.

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (1)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | about 8 months ago | (#45423157)

If you think the NSA isn't building a massive database of what metadata belongs to what person, you're painfully naive. They've lied at every turn -- their leader even lied under oath to a Congressional panel. Why would you ever believe them when tell you they're *not* doing something?

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (1)

icebike (68054) | about 8 months ago | (#45418393)

No kidding.

Especially if Facebook is involved in any way.
Who needs metadata when everyone has to sign up with facebook?

Stanford: What in gods name were you thinking??!!

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (2)

turp182 (1020263) | about 8 months ago | (#45418401)

Because the Stanford project doesn't have a list of suspected/confirmed terrorist/criminals it may be try to associate you with. Unless they are asking such a question (Are you a criminal?), which would be awesome.

And you are correct, No...

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (4, Insightful)

bob_super (3391281) | about 8 months ago | (#45418407)

If it's officially not private, then they should just ask the NSA for an anonymized data dump. We paid them for the collection already.

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45418487)

Since the experiment involves human subjects, it has presumably been vetted by Stanford's Institutional Review Board [stanford.edu] .

Re:If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (1)

jxander (2605655) | about 8 months ago | (#45418749)

You're giving it out anyway, whether you want to or not, to the three-letter-acronyms.

Might as well also give it to some one that might use it for good.

Re: If you were paranoid about the NSA having it (1)

tolkienfan (892463) | about 8 months ago | (#45419715)

I think what the NSA is doing is plain wrong, and by participating I'm helping demonstrate the lie. I already signed up. Lastly, I trust Stanford more than the NSA.

Using Metadata to Find Paul Revere (4, Informative)

turp182 (1020263) | about 8 months ago | (#45418371)

This post titled Using Metadata to Find Paul Revere is very insightful (and very basic in terms of collected data compared to phone metadata):

http://kieranhealy.org/blog/archives/2013/06/09/using-metadata-to-find-paul-revere/ [kieranhealy.org]

There's a previous and more mathematically detailed analysis of the same data here (the author above didn't know about this analysis until after publishing, but the link above is a much easier read):
http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/polisci/faculty/chwe/ps269/han.pdf [ucla.edu]

That's great (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45418543)

You posted links and got your Karma.

What's your point?

I started reading your cites and I'll be done with them in about a week.

Just state you point with cites and be done with it - M'Kay?

Re:That's great (1, Offtopic)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 8 months ago | (#45419655)

Somewhere near you, there is a community college offering Remedial Reading 101. You should check it out.

Re:That's great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45423722)

Me fail english? That unpossible!

Re:That's great (1)

Mashdar (876825) | about 8 months ago | (#45423742)

The link was awesome for those of us who can read. I just sent it to my immediate family. Excellent illustrations, humorous writing style, and informative content. A+

Stanford Researcher - Glad to Answer Questions (4, Informative)

jonathanmayer (2401784) | about 8 months ago | (#45418373)

Hi all,

I'm one of the Stanford researchers working on the MetaPhone project. Way cool that we made /.!

Some additional details are available at metaphone.me [metaphone.me] . I would be glad to answer questions.

Best,
Jonathan

Re:Stanford Researcher - Glad to Answer Questions (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45418443)

Do you and your fellow researchers pledge not to join any startups where you can specifically monetize the expertise you gained on the use of phone metadata?

Re:Stanford Researcher - Glad to Answer Questions (2, Informative)

jonathanmayer (2401784) | about 8 months ago | (#45418727)

We aren't dastardly plotting a secret scheme to bootstrap a startup. This is an academic research project.

As for the data, we recognize that participants are placing their trust in us. We have committed to securing the data and deleting it once the study is complete.

Re: Stanford Researcher - Glad to Answer Questions (1)

tolkienfan (892463) | about 8 months ago | (#45419733)

I wholeheartedly support this project and already signed up. Thank you

Re:Stanford Researcher - Glad to Answer Questions (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45418761)

Are you guys looking to just target a certain android platform or will this study reach iOS users as well? Also from the information I've read thus far the data is being used in conjunction to a court case regarding NSA collections; This in mind how long will the study hold the metadata and when/how will it be destroyed?

Re:Stanford Researcher - Glad to Answer Questions (1, Interesting)

jonathanmayer (2401784) | about 8 months ago | (#45419007)

Are you guys looking to just target a certain android platform or will this study reach iOS users as well?

The study is presently Android only. We would like to support iOS, but the telephony APIs do not include phone metadata.

Also from the information I've read thus far the data is being used in conjunction to a court case regarding NSA collections;

While we hope our research results will have a public impact, the MetaPhone project is not affiliated with litigation against the National Security Agency.

This in mind how long will the study hold the metadata and when/how will it be destroyed?

The pace of the study will be largely dictated by user response. We anticipate completing our work by Spring Quarter at Stanford, but the project may take longer.

Re:Stanford Researcher - Glad to Answer Questions (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 8 months ago | (#45419411)

at&t web log?

make an export tool for those operators that have web interfaces (for bill checking purposes) to the metadata logs?

Re:Stanford Researcher - Glad to Answer Questions (0)

jonathanmayer (2401784) | about 8 months ago | (#45419541)

at&t web log?

make an export tool for those operators that have web interfaces (for bill checking purposes) to the metadata logs?

We certainly considered this. We wanted to make participation as straightforward as possible, so we stuck to user-friendly and well-known software APIs.

Re: Stanford Researcher - Glad to Answer Questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420549)

Will you publish the size of the dataset as well. As the number of collected records?

Re:Stanford Researcher - Glad to Answer Questions (1)

memnock (466995) | about 8 months ago | (#45419191)

I don't use either of the platforms the project is based on, but I would contribute if I could.

I can understand the concerns of the people who don't support the project because of the involvement of fb, but not those who oppose the NSA invasion, yet don't want to voluntarily give their info. The results could end up being one of the best arguments against the NSA's practices. Further, by volunteering to contribute their data to the project, while opposing the NSA's activities, they augment the position that their information is theirs and shouldn't just be there for the NSA or anyone to just take at any agency's pleasure.

Re:Stanford Researcher - Glad to Answer Questions (1)

turp182 (1020263) | about 8 months ago | (#45419207)

I've looked at a couple of links, one in the Slashdot post and the one you posted, but couldn't find a list of specific data points you are collecting.

Links I went to:
https://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/blog/2013/11/what's-in-your-metadata [stanford.edu]
http://metaphone.me/learnmore [metaphone.me]

Is there a link to the data point information, or could you provide more information? Data points by source would be great (potentially obvious, but seeing sources would make things clearer and more transparent).

Thank you.

Re:Stanford Researcher - Glad to Answer Questions (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 8 months ago | (#45419277)

I suspect they wont tell you because that would taint the study. You could either a. avoid things embarrassing or b. intentionally hammer on something to screw up the stats. It would be better if you didn't even know you had it installed. But that would be unethical.

Re:Stanford Researcher - Glad to Answer Questions (1)

turp182 (1020263) | about 8 months ago | (#45419375)

I considered that, good observation.

But, we can guess many data points (which could be manipulated, but I'm not sure for what purpose - I believe the research is a 6 Degrees From Bacon exercise, and not a bad thing to pursue).

For cell phones: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/interactive/2013/jun/12/what-is-metadata-nsa-surveillance#meta=0100000 [theguardian.com] (requires JS)
* phone number of every caller
* unique serial numbers of phones involved
* time of call
* duration of call
* location of each participant (maybe, my comment)
* telephone calling card numbers

For Facebook or other social media, I'm assuming the extent of data access is deep. Find related Facebook/cell phone numbers (which may be able to be linked through social sites) and deep information is easy.

But I question why one would want to influence most of these to try and skew things. I could contact, while being monitored, Person-X 1,000 times, but unless a bunch of other people are doing so they would probably assume I'm talking to my spouse/partner/coworker (say in a start-up).

Re:Stanford Researcher - Glad to Answer Questions (4, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 8 months ago | (#45419263)

Your app requires a Facebook account. Please change that. Nearly everyone that has an android phone also has a Google account. Please make that an option.

Re:Stanford Researcher - Glad to Answer Questions (1, Informative)

jonathanmayer (2401784) | about 8 months ago | (#45419595)

Your app requires a Facebook account. Please change that. Nearly everyone that has an android phone also has a Google account. Please make that an option.

We're using Facebook for structured social network data, not single sign-on like the Google/Facebook/Twitter/OpenID/etc. options offered by some websites and apps.

Re:Stanford Researcher - Glad to Answer Questions (1)

cosm (1072588) | about 8 months ago | (#45420139)

And ... ?

Re:Stanford Researcher - Glad to Answer Questions (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 8 months ago | (#45419581)

Does it work if you use Google Voice over VoIP instead of the stock dialer and "voice minutes?"

Re:Stanford Researcher - Glad to Answer Questions (0)

jonathanmayer (2401784) | about 8 months ago | (#45419839)

Does it work if you use Google Voice over VoIP instead of the stock dialer and "voice minutes?"

We only collect phone and text metadata from the Android telephony APIs. Other messaging and voice platforms are not included.

Re:Stanford Researcher - Glad to Answer Questions (0)

magic maverick (2615475) | about 8 months ago | (#45421279)

Hi Jono,
Just a quick question: when did you stop beating your wife?

Cheers.

Cant install it (1)

Mistakill (965922) | about 8 months ago | (#45418409)

I have a HTC One X, and a facebook account, yet it says its incompatible?

Re:Cant install it (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 8 months ago | (#45420027)

Try hitting the install button and see why it says it's incompatible. I think this is a USA-only thing, as it tells me "not available in your country" when I try.

Misunderstanding the argument (5, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | about 8 months ago | (#45418413)

The claim isn't that metadata isn't revealing. Of course it's revealing. That's why they're gathering it.

The assertion is that metadata isn't private in the same sense that the name and address on an envelope aren't private. If you leave one out on the table, anybody can read it. They can't read what's inside the envelope without opening it, but the addressee and return address are plain as day.

Whether that argument holds legal water is up to lawyers, legislators, judges, and (ultimately) voters. But nobody needs to convince the NSA that it's revealing; they're well aware of it. And so, I assume, is everybody reading this site. What the Congress and the Courts know... honestly, I wouldn't even begin to imagine, but I suspect that they're unlikely to change their mind on it based on this. I can't imagine that "install this data-gathering app and we'll show you that we can gather a lot of data" comes as a surprise to anybody.

Re:Misunderstanding the argument (3, Insightful)

turp182 (1020263) | about 8 months ago | (#45418485)

If it isn't considered private, it should all be released to the public, maybe with a month delay to account for national security needs.

They claim the data isn't blanket searched. First of all, I don't have trust in the messenger at this point. Second, the systems they have are considerably more powerful/expansive than I had imagined. By the looks of it, it's a global communication catcher with no reasonable limits (whatever that would mean).

Third, in August they admitted to "2,776 incidents of 'unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications" in the preceding twelve months' ":
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/08/nsa-violated-privacy-law-thousands-of-times.html [nymag.com]

Seems public enough to me to truly be public.

Re:Misunderstanding the argument (1)

kermidge (2221646) | about 8 months ago | (#45420887)

"2,776 known incidents of 'unauthorized collection...."

FTF us; it was clever of them to omit that qualifier. Many would slide right past it, or say "See, they know what's going on, even the wrong stuff." and be comforted by the seemingly small number of incidents and thus in their own minds negating the very importance of what they'd just read.

(Long ago and far away I was involved in writing scripts and such for the telemarketing of vacation home sites. It's right amazing what can be done with careful word choice and phrasing, and use of the Voice (apologies to Herbert and the concept.))

Re:Misunderstanding the argument (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45418539)

The claim isn't that metadata isn't revealing. Of course it's revealing. That's why they're gathering it.

The assertion is that metadata isn't private in the same sense that the name and address on an envelope aren't private. If you leave one out on the table, anybody can read it. They can't read what's inside the envelope without opening it, but the addressee and return address are plain as day.

Whether that argument holds legal water is up to lawyers, legislators, judges, and (ultimately) voters. But nobody needs to convince the NSA that it's revealing; they're well aware of it. And so, I assume, is everybody reading this site. What the Congress and the Courts know... honestly, I wouldn't even begin to imagine, but I suspect that they're unlikely to change their mind on it based on this. I can't imagine that "install this data-gathering app and we'll show you that we can gather a lot of data" comes as a surprise to anybody.

If you can't see the reason, then you've overlooked your own observation.

Who again is the target audience you're trying to make aware?

Oh yeah, that's right. It's "ultimately" the group known as voters.

Re:Misunderstanding the argument (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45418547)

While the address etc on the envelope isn't hidden, it is usually readable only by the people working at the post office and may be a handful outside of that. It does not mean that Joe policeman, secret NSA man can read it as they are not part of the mail delivery process. We do have an expectation of privacy.

Re:Misunderstanding the argument (2)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#45419231)

Care to bet on that? These days I wouldn't. Consider - most mail routing is done by automated systems, how difficult do you suppose it would be to send/store a copy of the plain text sender/receiver information while the routing barcode is being printed?

Re: Misunderstanding the argument (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45420873)

How about we take a picture of the front and back of the envelope, do OCR on the address and then use that to generate a unique barcode containing the source, destination, and a serial number. Then we can scan and log the barcode at every sorting machine. Oh, and as an added benefit, we can allow people to subscribe to the scan feed based on source or destination ID.

Oh wait, we already have that:
https://mailtracking.usps.com/mtr/landing/resources/confirm/landingHowWorks.jsp

Re:Misunderstanding the argument (2)

kermidge (2221646) | about 8 months ago | (#45420911)

All envelopes have been photographed by the USPS for some time now - and that data is available via existing legal means and conditions. Whether there is wider collection I don't know.

A search brings this up as one of the early results:

http://news.yahoo.com/ap-interview-usps-takes-photos-mail-072949079.html [yahoo.com]

and according to the article the data is kept for up to a month "but they are available for law enforcement, if requested." The program started after the ricin attacks in 2001. Also according to the article, each sorting machine keeps its own stuff - their is no central store.

Re:Misunderstanding the argument (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45418607)

The Supreme Court already ruled on the metadata and the 4th amendment. Just because the Civil Libertarians lost and want to prevent the intel and police agencies from being successful by exposing it, doesn't make it change any facts.

Re:Misunderstanding the argument (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45419193)

But the supreme court is just a bunch of bought dickheads. The justice system is broken. Sorry. Game over.

Re:Misunderstanding the argument (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 8 months ago | (#45419707)

The Supreme Court has also allowed prohibitions against alcohol and marijuana to stand. History has proven prohibition to be wrong, stupid, and utter failures. Maybe you should side with civil libertarians instead of the court?

Re: Misunderstanding the argument (1)

oztiks (921504) | about 8 months ago | (#45419689)

Not a worthy argument. Say that you hold the database of all addresses on all letters held by all residents. Sender and reciver. You see patterns, these patterns are all that is then needed to build a case to then conduct surveillance. The metadata is the tool used to create a reason to pursue. Without it they actually have to go out and do their jobs. Sure as a bystander one can see an envelope here or there. In actual fact it's a ferderal offense to mess with people's letterboxes. So unless someone leaves a bundle of letters out and unless your rude enough to sift through their mail you're only going to see the first address anyway. And that is the recipients address anyway. Further I could leave my wifi password stuck to the back of my router, if someone is rude enough to steal it and think nothing of it ... well it sucks to be that person too. First they convince common respect is misplaced, now I'm hearing being a sneaky prick is okay too... what's next NSA employees allowed to help themselves to beers in my fridge?

Re:Misunderstanding the argument (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 8 months ago | (#45419691)

Of course an addressed envelope isn't "private" to the extent that the contents of the envelope are. But, one doesn't expect the mailman to maintain a log of every parcel that he delivers to, or picks up from your house. Nor do you expect that mailman to share his log with the police department, or the Aryan Race headquarters, or the Muslim Brotherhood's Neighborhood Ethics Patrol.

Re: Misunderstanding the argument (1)

tolkienfan (892463) | about 8 months ago | (#45419775)

Many people are ok with the collection of metadata, but wouldn't be if they knew the kinds of details that may be learned from metadata. E.g. political leanings, sexual orientation, degrees of separation from, well anyone. I'm actually curious how much they can figure out.

That said, I don't believe it's just metadata. The size of datacenter the NSA just built tells me they're collecting whatever flows thru their capture devices. Wholesale.

Re:Misunderstanding the argument (1)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about 8 months ago | (#45420151)

And the argument, which you misunderstood, is that it is provably private data because it reveals way too much. The decisions have been in error.
As increments, they were logical and sound. At some point, though, you have to reset the starting point and ask if it has gone to far. Inch to inch, no. But from 1776 yes.
I am concerned that the study is gathering far more data tan necessary due to the Facebook comment above. Of course if you have Facebook data plus location you know all.
What is being claimed publicly should be the maximum, and conclusions drawn from there. FISA data and nsl requests and anything other than the metadata will not prove a point.

Re:Misunderstanding the argument (1)

kermidge (2221646) | about 8 months ago | (#45420925)

Quibble: it's "inch _by_ inch" as in

"Inch by inch, step by step....Niagara Falls!" - The Three Stooges.

HHS: We Can't Tally (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45418427)

HHS: We Can't Tally A Sequence Of Positive Integers

But We Can Still Totally Make Your Private Health Decisions For You

So this multimillion dollar piece of sophisticated programming can't count customer transactions. The way even the cheapest and most basic Casio cash register does. Okay.

Yes, it's obviously a lie: but it's a lie that still shatters any claim they may have to elementary competence. First, because they are claiming they can't count. Ouch. I want them to handle my complex insurance?

But also the lie itself is an act of incompetence at covering butt. Because it is far worse than telling the truth about how messed up everything is.

The big Obamacare website story about how everything is f*cked up is already out there. It's making the rounds and is generally well-understood. One cannot ruin a flaming train wreck more. Better to say the site is not functioning. That would be believable and really not change the situation too much, while buying some time.

But no, HHS says things are going swimmingly and decides to invent this story about just not being able to sum up the number of actual sales. The way a child running a lemonade stand can.

It's counting. Nothing fancy. 1, 2, 3...follow the trend here. We have machines for this, but we don't really need them.

How about asking the financial agent that processes the money? Usually these places are pretty good about counting transactions. You could say it is a vital part of their core mission.

The truth must be worse than we can imagine, if it produced this embarrassing display of flopsweat.

So let me get this straight... (0, Flamebait)

bobbied (2522392) | about 8 months ago | (#45418429)

You are releasing an ANDROID app that allows me to volunteer to send you all my metadata? Um, not just no. Heck NO!

It's bad enough that the NSA gets it from my carrier and that Google gets loads of data from me every time I use the search feature on my phone, but even to make a point I'm NOT going to sign up and let some yahoos (um.. classical usage, not the company) track everything they want about my handset.

You people must be nuts... I've gone to great lengths to skim off all the stuff my carrier packed into the phone in the first place, I'm not going to waste my space, battery and data on this.

Re:So let me get this straight... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45418695)

You are releasing an ANDROID app that allows me to volunteer to send you all my metadata? Um, not just no. Heck NO!

It's bad enough that the NSA gets it from my carrier and that Google gets loads of data from me every time I use the search feature on my phone, but even to make a point I'm NOT going to sign up and let some yahoos (um.. classical usage, not the company) track everything they want about my handset.

Yeah, you're right. Somehow a very public project like this in your mind is far worse than the "yahoos" at Facebook, Google, Twitter, and (ironically) Yahoo gathering your data and selling it to multiple bidders instead.

Feel better now, or is that cloud of ignorance still choking you out?

Here, let me put this a bit more bluntly. You own a smartphone on a US carrier. Your privacy is already fucked, and you agreed to it in the EULA. Wake the fuck up already.

What is metadata? (2)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 8 months ago | (#45418465)

Well, it's GIS map info, the Google app tracking of your searches, the cell phone tracking devices in all US cities that geolocate you downtown, the traffic camera feeds with license plate matches, the credit or debit card transactions at every store, the answers you gave to what you thought was a cute girl online but was actually a fake harvesting bot.

All of that plus your digitized walking stride, your clothing selections, and everyone you talked to and were within 3 feet of.

Congratulations!

You live in a Police State that makes the Stasi look like pikers ...

Re:What is metadata? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45418661)

But I thought the google cars were just an oversight a mistake! What a lie, [we had no idea a rogue employee programmed and installed electronic eavesdropping software AND hardware in EVERY F****** car we rolled out.] What a bunch of pukes and the people that support google/facebook/twitter(aka brownshirts). You are the problem.

Re:What is metadata? (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 8 months ago | (#45418699)

You assume I'm not part of the machine on purpose.

Interesting ...

What we really need (5, Insightful)

nytes (231372) | about 8 months ago | (#45418479)

What we really need is for someone to get a hold of some pro-dragnet surveillance politico's, like Diane Feinstein's, metadata and publish a nice analysis of that.

Then she could get up there and tell us how innocent the collection is.

Re:What we really need (1)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about 8 months ago | (#45420173)

A few volunteers at the capital and it is guaranteed. But what happens then?
First hint, I'm not volunteering.
Second, eavesdropping.
Third, national security.

Result, failure to prove anything. Something that would have an effect is a far better aspiration than turnabout.

Re:What we really need (1)

nytes (231372) | about 8 months ago | (#45424862)

No eavesdropping is done. All we need is the metadata. That's something that any law enforcement agency can obtain without a warrant.

What does it prove? It could prove to be a huge embarrassment to the target, which is why the target needs to be someone who claims that the metadata doesn't tell anyone anything about your personal life.

I'm not just talking about, "You made 32 calls last year to a phone sex line, each lasting approximately 35 minutes". How about, "I see you made a couple of short calls to a gynecologist. Setting up appointments, perhaps? Then, about 4 weeks later, I see that you spoke with an oncologist for 20 minutes, followed by a 45 minute call to an attorney specializing in wills and probate. Is there something we should know, Senator Feinstein?"

Re:What we really need (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45423285)

I would like to wager that if anyone collected Dianne Feinstein's metadata, analyzed it, and published it, that they then would take a nice one way trip to Guantanamo Bay, to be held, without charges, without trial, for the rest of their lives.

Every one of those damn liberals (like Feinstein) who complained about Guantanamo Bay detention, still has done NOTHING to close that facility, even though they all claim to want it to happen. Actions (Should) speak louder than words but California voters are too stupid to realize that and just listen to mouthpieces (like Feinstein) and believe them.

Re:What we really need (1)

TheSeatOfMyPants (2645007) | about 8 months ago | (#45430723)

First, Feinstein & co. aren't real liberals -- our country's idea of a "liberal" is actually what qualified as center-conservative until relatively recently in UShistory, and they're still center-right in other first-world democracies. From what I've heard, Ted Kennedy was the last real liberal to be a political success, and he served from freaking 1962 (when liberal still meant liberal to a large degree) until he died 5 years ago.

Second, only politicians willing to largely support the military/spying & corporatocracy have a chance at winning a federal position. "Somebody"digs up dirt on any politicians that try to defy it, and let their lapdogs in the media tear the person's career to shreds. Smart voters realize that our options boil down to voting for the politician whose other beliefs/actions align with their own, or for one that will betray everything they care about.

So given the Republican & Libertarian parties are also full of pro-spying &even more full of pro-military-industrial types, what precisely do you think that voting against Democratswould accomplish for a state like California? Are you claiming that a conservative/libertarian politician wouldn't take the opportunity to undermine or destroy as many of California's liberal-leaning policies as possible?

Quite logically (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45418521)

If the data had no inherit revealing value, the agencies wouldn't bother collecting it.

Fighting the spying on citizens (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45418735)

My proposal is that if Everyone, Everywhere started inserting words that we all suspect the Govt is searching for ... into all of our online email, sms, etc as just a random insertion of a word here or there then their search algorithms will just become useless.

Example... if every email and SMS in the world had the word "jihad" inserted into it then they would have Billions of captures everyday that they would find are really useless to them and a waste of time/compute/storage.

Keep up the pressure (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 8 months ago | (#45418809)

I'll take this as a nail in the coffin for metadata -- that it's not really meta. But the real reason is it would have been misused by England to feel out the Founding Fathers' networks, and hence the FF would have intended it to be forbidden sans warrant.

Remember, they just need to get a warrant to go leapfrogging a step (no more without Congress specifying a Bacon leap number) from known, warrantable bad guys. That is all we are saying.

A small caveat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45419185)

If you're IN THE UNITED STATES, have an Android phone and a Facebook account etc. It's called the World Wide Web for a reason,

Phone call data is not metadata! (1)

sotweed (118223) | about 8 months ago | (#45420089)

It's data. It happens not to be complete - there's more, namely the audio of the call.

Intelligence agencies have been doing traffic analysis on this sort of data -- just who is
communicating with whom - for at least 70 years. For NSA to refer to it as "only metadata"
is the height of hypocrisy.

Use Crypto as a matter of General Practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45423297)

You assert your right to use ciphers by actually doing it.

Combine with PMR radio, CB radio, directional WLAN or Laser links, optical morse txmission or the like to defeat the 1984 types.

Radio amateurs have achieved a WLAN link distance of 70000 meters using improvised antennas based on satellite dishes WITH 70 millwatt of power !

That means that countries like Ireland, Britain or Germany could actually have a Physically Hidden People's Internet based on these WLAN links.

Here's a simple, unhackable cipher of mine you can use to secure your short messages:
http://www.scherbius2014.de
No english translation, yet.

So: stop being a Facebook Coward and set up a Cantenna link today !

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...