In the current moment much of the concern about privacy online and otherwise has been overwhelmed by Trump, inequality, racism and other matters. The NSA and other spies, government and corporate, are not taking a vacation. I wrote earlier about this in “The Uses of Metadata – an experiment you can conduct with your own life’s metadata” in July, 2013.
Recently I revisited Immersion: a people-centric view of your email life, the MIT project to visualize a tiny portion of the metadata1 of our lives, our emails.
Here is a single snap-shot of my email network for the last 8.3 yrs with 66,093 emails from 489 people (Immersion strips out junk mail and other emails from non-people). The program allows you to narrow the timeline to small junks of time.
Immersion provides lots of interactive tools to explore your email world. For example, you can click on a single person and see who they might have connected you to.
Currently Immersion works with Google, Yahoo and MS Exchange email systems.
Now, just imagine a map that is built using all of the information from your credit/debit cards, telephone calls, text messages, and location data from your mobile phone. By combining all of this time stamped information the NSA and corporate spies can build a very granular view of virtually every moment of your life without ever listening in to your conversations or reading your emails. Feeling secure in our lives are we??
- metadata = a set of data that describes and gives information about other data. In the case of email this includes date and time; to, cc, bcc recipients; and subject line. [↩]