Press-Republican

Guest Column

September 8, 2013

Metadata = Data? You bet

As I mentioned in last month’s column, the story of the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance made public by Edward Snowden has legs. 

In fact, if the story were an insect, it would be a millipede. Now before you send me a nasty correction, let the record show that I know that, by definition, an insect is limited to six legs but “millipede” sounds so much better than “arthropod.” It would seem that in this brave, new digital age there should be not only millipedes but mega, giga, tera and even petapedes. No matter. Suffice to say that this story shows no signs of ending well or soon.

As of Aug 21, the latest twist to this thriller revealed that two years ago, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court strongly admonished the NSA for sweeping up domestic- along with foreign-intelligence gathering. The crux of the issue was that, without a warrant, the NSA had no authority to spy on U.S. citizens and in fact, were violating the fourth amendment protecting citizens from unreasonable search.

I have spent some weeks researching the method that NSA must have used to intercept U.S. citizen’s phone calls, emails and other Internet transactions and could only find the political and economic aspects — how they pressured Internet providers such as Verizon and AT&T to “share” their data unbeknownst to U.S. users. There was very little information about the actual techniques applied to the data once the NSA had it in their hands. So I decided to abandon the experiential approach and apply deduction instead. After all, I had taught the database-management course in my career as computer-science professor so why not put to use what I had learned? Here’s the way I think it went:

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Guest Column
  • clute_cropped.jpg Finding accountability, healing

    Today, I focus on the vast majority of cases that do not go to trial but end in a guilty plea, writes former District Attorney and City Judge Penny Clute.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • krieg_felicia_mug.jpg Affordable doesn't mean low quality

    Drugstore products often perform just as well as their high-end counterparts, Felicia Krieg writes.

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • paul_grasso.jpg Opportunity to repair infrastructure missed

    A vibrant economy requires roads, bridges, dams and other assets that are in good condition, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • ken_wibecan.jpg Remembering the Sixties

    Each Memorial Day and Labor Day in the early 1960s, about a dozen of us city-dwellers drove to Lake George, writes columnist Ken Wibecan.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg The right to be forgotten?

    Europe taking first steps toward securing privacy with Google and Facebook, writes columnist Stu Denenberg.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Ethical consumerism in vogue

    However, making purchasing choices that can help save the planet aren't always that simple, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg U.S. lacking leadership

    Inspiration is hard to come by as society struggles to fulfill the traditional American dream, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    June 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for quality, safety, animal welfare

    June Dairy Month is a good time to appreciate all the effort that goes into producing the very best in dairy products, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    June 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Libraries still relevant

    In the digital age, it takes innovation and creativity to assure libraries stay a vital part of the community, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    June 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Trees at risk from pests

    The Emerald Ash Borer is a major threat to ash trees locally and across North America, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    June 1, 2014 1 Photo