This will be a pretty short diary, but one that I think warrants writing.
MIT has come up with a way to show you what exactly a review of your Gmail metadata looks like; thus, at least a peek into all that sneaky peeking the pesky NSA is doing. Granted, various reports in the blogosphere (and pointedly outside "real news media") and around the web have indicated this is just a drop of water in the pond of metadata the Panopticon NSA spying apparatus has to control us plebes. Still, it's a useful look at just how much a little bit of metadata from one email source, albeit an extremely popular and highly used email source, can tell the NSA.
The project is called Immersion.
The link above takes you to an article in Tech Week Europe describing the program and providing one example of an editor with the publication's personal experience with the metadata revealer. I highly recommend reading the brief but important article.
The tool, called Immersion, goes through your Gmail and reports to you on what it finds. Then Immersion displays it as a sort of bubble chart showing who you trade email with the most, and perhaps equally important, the relationship between those people.I can't include the picture itself, but a quick visit to the story will make things rapidly apparent.
The cluster of colored bubbles in our illustration are from TechWeekEurope editor Peter Judge. with the names of the people omitted. The size of those bubbles shows how much he has corresponded with those people, effectively showing how important they may be to him.
On the other hand, you could just cut out the middle man and see what you think yourself. If you have a Gmail account and don't mind allowing the Immersion program to access it to show you just what your metadata looks like, you can give it a try with this link to the program.
After taking a minute or so to collect and organize, it shows you your personal metadata representation, similar to an undoubtedly scaled down version of something similar the NSA might get from Google. To those uncertain about giving out your already too-frequently-accessed personal data to yet another source, at least rest assured with the knowledge that signing out afterwards gives you the explicit and direct option of signing out and saving the data or signing out and deleting it.
I highly recommend checking for yourself, so that you can better appreciate the ease with which the NSA spying on "just metadata" allows them to look in on the very finest details in the window of your life. Anyone unconvinced at this point about the scariness and potential for abuse such unrestrained power allows (especially in the hands of servants of the 1%, for whom power and wealth are everything), however you have remained unconvinced up til now, perhaps this will finally awaken you to the omniscience metadata affords this colossal civil rights-crushing spy hoard.
H/t to Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism for inclusion of this important story in her regular daily links list.