Don’t wait: there’s less than 24 hours left to get (almost) any Marketplace thank-you gift.
Text vs. phone data: Which is more valuable to the government?
Share Now on:
Yesterday the National Security agency seized the phone records of millions of Verizon customers through a secret court ruling. But with so many people texting — as much as or even more — than they call on the phone, is the NSA phone surveillance really effective?
We asked Bennie Lagos, the chief strategy officer for Susteen, a company that specializes in cell phone forensics, whether it’s better for bad guys to text or call?
“I don’t want to comment on that,” Lagos said. Lagos doesn’t want to tip off the bad guys. But he did say the law enforcement and military officials Susteen works with focus a lot on texts.
“Terrorists are given their directives via a text,” said Lagos. “So there’s rarely — if ever — a voice command.”
Assuming that the NSA is only going after phone records, isn’t that a big handicap? Lagos said you might not get the smoking gun, but you can still get a lot of intelligence from tracking phone calls and collect enough circumstantial evidence to make an arrest.
But, said Mark Rumold, an attorney at the civil liberty group the Electronic Frontier Foundation: “There’s nothing in this order that appears to exclude text message metadata.”
And he says, if it does, another secret order might include it.
We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.
Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.
In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.
Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.
Donate now to get almost any thank-you gift.