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WASHINGTON DC | Has the Land of the Free become the Land behind the digital Berlin Wall? The government of East Germany collected information on its citizens, as part of maintaining control over the population. Today, the National Security Agency is collecting metadata. Billions of records a day are obtained by the spy agency in order to track relationships between people.
Under communist rule, the government of that nation organized data, in order to determine how people knew one another. They also worked to reveal how close people were to one another. Records were physically written on small pieces of paper, and connections were marked using string or ink. In modern-day America, federal agencies use electronic intercepts, eavesdrop on cell phone communications, and spy on conversations, from satellites miles above the Earth. These technologies are far more efficient than what the East Germans used in their research.
Gary Bruce, of the University of Waterloo and the author of
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