Horrifying Graphic: What the NSA Knows About You From Your Phone Usage Alone
By Anthony Gucciardi
July 6, 2013
The National Security Agency’s collection of data regarding telephone conversations is a far greater threat to privacy than many of us believe. A lawsuit filed by a German politician proves just how much you can learn about a person’s life by monitoring and tracking their phone usage.
Malte Spitz, a member of Germany’s Green Party, sued his cellphone company, T-Mobile, in 2010 in an attempt to determine how much the carrier knew about him. Malte won the suit and received a CD that showed how easy it is to track a person via their phone.
35,890 Records About His Movement
When he won his lawsuit, Spitz received a CD containing 35,830 records, each documenting his movements. Spitz learned that T-Mobile could pinpoint exactly where he was at a given time. By combining GPS with the data, Spitz could track his own movements around Germany.
T-Mobile knew exactly how many telephone calls Spitz received in a day, how many calls he made, how many Twitter messages he sent out, and how many he received. By examining the data, T-Mobile could figure out that Spitz was attending a political demonstration on Sept. 5, 2009. Spitz shared the data with the German magazine ZEIT, which had an easy time creating a simple interative graphic that tracked Spitz’s movements based on the metadata. The graphic, of which you can see a still of below, highlights what the NSA and mobile phone companies can find out about you from phone records alone (click here for the interactive version):