Ottawa Citizen: Stanford study reveals just how much of your private info is exposed through metadata

We all know that the metadata spy agencies collect on us can be hugely revealing. Now this Stanford study underlines just how much of our private lives can be exposed through this government spying. Article by Ian Macleod for the Ottawa Citizen OTTAWA — The kind of “metadata” that can be gleaned from smartphone records — the same type of data targeted by Canadian and American intelligence agencies — can reveal highly sensitive personal information, a new study at Stanford University has revealed. “We were able to infer medical conditions and more, using solely phone metadata,” report Jonathan Mayer and Patrick Mutchler, researchers at Stanford’s Department of Computer Science.

The newly released results underscore why the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSE) believe metadata collection and analysis is effective for tracking the activities of terror targets and others.

The Stanford “Metaphone” project analyzed metadata from 546 volunteer Android phone users, starting in November. A special phone app transmitted device logs and social network information to Stanford for analysis. The aim was to estimate the reach of the NSA’s metadata surveillance and related privacy risks.

Among those identified by the small Stanford project were a suspected marijuana grow operator, a multiple sclerosis sufferer and a woman who may have been arranging an abortion.

Other participants had calls with Alcoholics Anonymous, gun stores, a pro-choice political action organization, labour unions, divorce lawyers, sexually transmitted disease clinics, a Canadian import pharmacy, strip clubs, “and much more,” Mayer writes of the research findings.

Read more at Ottawa Citizen

Take action now! Sign up to be in the loop Donate to support our work