There two types of Information Gathering (remember that term?) going on. Metadata Mining is the Government’s ability to compel Facebook, Google, Microsoft, etc. to provide data. But, you shouldn’t be concerned; because, if you are using Social Media, you are already basically giving that away yourself. The linked article from Foreign Policy is: http://www.twincities.com/opinion/ci_23437853/shane-harris-bigger-threat-mining-metadata.
I recall reading about someone, in New York City, who had sworn-off Facebook. Recently, while walking to a Subway Station, he encountered a Woman who he had never met; but, he knew quite a bit about her–from Facebook. Did she know what he knew? Do you think that she would be pleased to know what a complete stranger knew about her? Probably not!
Now, think again before you buy the Google “Glass”, the eyeglasses that place a computer screen before your eyes all day long. The linked article, from Forbes, is: http://www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2013/04/30/developer-warns-of-google-glass-security-risks-following-his-jailbreak-exploit/. The information on Glass can be downloaded–basically hacking into your vision. Oh, and if you sell them, the recipient would know enough about you to make NSA quite envious.
The surveillance programs, noted in the Foreign Policy article, having to do with compiling records, but not content, of incoming and outgoing calls, at least in my opinion, does not seem to be as bad as the gaining of access to actual facts about you. Some in Congress and the Media continue to rabble-rouse, since the NSA Leaks are the Story du Jour. But, the facts are different.
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects “content” from unlawful search or seizure; but, records of who you contacted, or contacted you, are permissible. To gain access to Content, the Government would need to get a specific warrant from the FISA Court. Remember that, as I noted earlier, you have already placed a good bit of personal information out on the Internet and Social Media, and some of that information can also be illegally hacked.
Now, what is the value of knowing your electronic records–without the content? Remember that, on the night the Boston Marathon Bombers were fleeing the Police, the Man they kidnapped had started the GPS on his cell phone, which they were using continuously. So, Police could follow their route.
Likewise, monitoring Lindsay Mills’ (the NSA Leaker’s girlfriend) electronic records might lead them to him. Calls, Email, etc. from Hong Kong might do the trick–along with tracking any airline travel on her part. Intelligence is basically connecting the dots.