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In an attempt to discover what the NSA can learn about people from the data it harvests from telecommunications companies, researchers at Stanford have set out to compile their own massive database of call and text logs—and they want you to help.
The MetaPhone project asks volunteers to install an Android app that sends the researchers copies of a device’s call logs and basic data from a person’s Facebook account. The researchers say that a large collection of such data will make it possible to use data-mining techniques to discover which aspects of people’s lives—as recorded in their Facebook data—can be revealed by examining just their calling and texting logs.
The NSA was revealed to routinely collect such logs from Verizon in some of the first documents leaked by erstwhile intelligence agency contractor Edward Snowden this year (see “NSA Surveillance Reflects a Broader Interpretation of the Patriot Act”). Other companies are believed to be under similar obligations.
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