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7 Things You Need To Know About The NSA

Written by Subject: Government
Over the past few months there have been numerous leaks of information about the National Security Agency (NSA) and the massive surveillance programs the government has been running. Most people realize that whistleblower Edward Snowden helped expose these leaks, but who else spoke out and what exactly did Snowden risk his livelihood to reveal? With so many media sources and government representatives all saying different things, it’s hard to grasp what’s real and what’s an excuse. That’s why we put together this list full of what you really need to know; in other words, what is the NSA doing, and to whom?

1) What is “metadata”?

The term “metadata” has been thrown around plenty by politicians and news sources when discussing the recent NSA revelations, but what exactly does that mean? According to, metadata literally means “data about data” and is used in a few different ways. When talking about “NSA metadata,” there’s a lot of information there. It includes information about your internet usage and your phone calls, like who you called, where you were when you made the call, and how long the phone call lasted. It also includes your phone’s SIM card number and your cell phone service provider. According to The Guardian, metadata is created every time you use your phone to place a phone call, check your email, send a text message, or even every time your phone connects to a network. Metadata is also created through small things in our everyday environments, like tiny RFID chips in passports, GPS systems in our cars, and even turnstiles in parking garages. These tiny sensors create information all around us. The NSA has been gathering this information, and according to the PEW Research Center, in 2012 more than 85% of Americans carried cell phones with them, so a lot of personal information is gathered. Even things like where we shop, how often we go through the drive through for fast food, and even where our loved ones sleep. All this is information the NSA accesses.


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