Never mind background checks, if you bring your cellphone to the gun range you probably have a gun, Reilly said.
People dont realize all the information that theyre giving out, she said. You can try to secure it you can use some tech tools, you can try to be a black hole online but if you try to live your life the way people are expecting it, its really difficult to control the amount of data that youre leaking all over the place.
A former senior official of the National Security Agency said the governments massive collection of metadata allowed the agency to construct maps of an individuals daily movements, social connections, travel habits and other personal information.
This is blanket. There is no constraint. No probable cause. No reasonable suspicion, said Thomas Drake, who worked unsuccessfully for years to report privacy violations and massive waste at the agency to his superiors and Congress.
Metadata is more useful than (the) content of a telephone call, email or Internet search, Drake said in an interview. It gets you a map over time. I get to map movements, connections, communities of interest. Its also a tracking mechanism.
The NSA can easily associate a phone number with an identity, he added. All location information comes from a (cellular) tower. There are tower records. They are doing this every single day. Its basically a data tap on metadata, and I can build a profile (of an individual) instantly.
The agency has programs that also can mine the metadata of emails and other electronic information, Drake said.
With advances in data storage, he continued, the NSA is able to maintain massive amounts of metadata for as long as it wants. This stuff is trivial to store, he said.
Drake added that U.S. telecommunications companies are prohibited from publicly disclosing arrangements with the NSA and are protected under the Patriot Act from lawsuits. They literally have the protection of the U.S. government from any, any lawsuit. The United States is literally turning into a surveillance state, he said. This is the new normal.
At a hearing Wednesday on Capitol Hill, FBI Director Robert Mueller said metadata obtained under Section 215 of the Patriot Act had helped authorities connect the dots in investigations that had prevented 10 or 12 terrorist plots in recent years. Mueller defended the collection of metadata, saying there were plenty of safeguards in place that protect Americans privacy. He warned against restricting or ending the program.
What concerns me is you never know which dot is going to be key, Mueller said. What you want is as many dots as we can (get). If you close down a program like this, you are removing dots from the playing field.
Kevin Thibodeaux contributed to this article.