What exactly constitutes surveillance?
It’s a question Senator Dianne Feinstein of California explored in a recent op-ed for USA Today. Her quibbling might make you question whether Ms. Feinstein bothered even to skim the definition of surveillance before she started writing. Because from the good Senator’s view, we shouldn’t consider the NSA call-records program to be surveillance at all:
“The call-records program is not surveillance. It does not collect the content of any communication, nor do the records include names or locations. The NSA only collects the type of information found on a telephone bill: phone numbers of calls placed and received, the time of the calls and duration. The Supreme Court has held this ‘metadata’ is not protected under the Fourth Amendment.”
It’s just metadata, kids. Not locations, just area codes. Just numbers, not audio. So keep moving, people, there’s nothing to see.
Now, we don’t want to pick apart the Senator’s argument on behalf of the NSA (there are plenty of people doing that already). Rather, we want to test whether Ms. Feinstein and her favorite intelligence agency will stand by their claims.
We want her call records. Sorry, her metadata.
We’ve submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the NSA for any call records they’ve obtained for Senator Dianne Feinstein. If she truly believes the arguments outlined in her op-ed, the Senator has pretty publicly waived her rights to such records. Under her argument, it’s harmless information, and such records are only used after the fact to “connect the dots.”
MuckRock will post Ms. Feinstein’s records in full online the moment we receive them, to allow her constituents and the public to connect whatever dots they see fit.
No need to worry Senator. Remember, it’s just metadata.
Image via Wikimedia Commons