Washington’s Blog on life in an era of firsts:
The US surveillance regime has more data on the average American than the Stasi ever did on East Germans. The American government is collecting and storing virtually every phone call, purchases, email, text message, internet searches, social media communications, health information, employment history, travel and student records, and virtually all other information of every American. Some also claim that the government is also using facial recognition software and surveillance cameras to track where everyone is going.
Moreover, cell towers track where your phone is at any moment, and the major cell carriers, including Verizon and AT&T, responded to at least 1.3 million law enforcement requests for cell phone locations and other data in 2011. And – given that your smartphone routinely sends your location information back to Apple or Google – it would be child’s play for the government to track your location that way. As the top spy chief (William Binney) at the U.S. National Security Agency explained, the American government is collecting some 100 billion 1,000-character emails per day, and 20 trillion communications of all types per year.
[Binney] says that if anyone gets on the government’s “enemies list”, then the stored information will be used to target them. Specifically, he notes that if the government decides it doesn’t like someone, it analyzes all of the data it has collected on that person and his or her associates over the last 10 years to build a case against him. The spying isn’t being done to keep us safe … but to crush dissent and to smear people who uncover unflattering things about the government … and to help the too big to fail businesses compete against smaller businesses.