ProPublica Reveals Depth of Government Snooping Powers

While much of the Petraeus story focuses on the government’s email snooping powers, non-profit news organization ProPublica reminds cellphone users that Big Brother has their numbers, too. So to speak:

“The guest lists from hotels, IP [computer] login records, as well as the creative request to email providers for ‘information about other accounts that have logged in from this IP address’ are all forms of data that the government can obtain with a subpoena. There is no independent review, no check against abuse, and further, the target of the subpoena will often never learn that the government obtained data.”

It’s not just email. In July, Rep. Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, cajoled major cellphone carriers into disclosing the number of requests for data that they receive from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies: In 2011, there were more than 1.3 million requests. As ProPublica reported at the time, “Police obtain court orders for basic subscriber information so frequently that some mobile phone companies have established websites — here’s one — with forms that police can fill out in minutes. The Obama Administration’s Department of Justice has said mobile phone users have ‘no reasonable expectation of privacy.'”

There’s a particularly cruel irony in all of this: If you contact your cell-phone carrier or Internet service provider or a data broker and ask to be provided with the information on you that they provide to the government and other companies, most of them will refuse or make you jump through Defcon levels of hops, skips, and clicks. Uncle Sam or Experian can easily access data that shows where you have been, whom you have called, what you have written, and what you have bought — but you do not have the same privileges.

Read more (on your smart phone for extra irony):

Hat Tip: BoingBoing

, , , ,

  • Gue

    Disinfo – your contact form is broken. Is it because you’re in hiding to keep the government from tracking you down?

    • Matt Staggs

      Yes, but if you email me at matt@disinfo.com, I can try to get your message to my subterranean reptoid masters.

  • Simiantongue

    It used to be cloak and dagger, hush hush, it’s not strictly legal to obtain information this way, we’re sticking out necks out there. Those in gov’t who abuse such powers have always had access to any information they wish. Now they’ve just codified it, no longer having to worry about repercussions when caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Giving up all pretenses. It’s a right of passage for all failing empires, the weave of society beginning to unravel. Any semblance of civilized society becoming tattered around the edges.

    It wasn’t any external “enemy” which is responsible for that. A body lacking moral fiber will begin to eat its own muscle mass. In essence its a symptom of our society cannibalizing itself.

  • InfvoCuernos

    Imagine what George Orwell would have thought if he had predicted that we’d all be not only carrying but paying for devices that contain microphones, transmit data without the owner’s permission, and track the exact location of that device anywhere in the world? Oh ya, and its got a camera on it too, how convenient.

21