I think I just read the scariest thing ever.
Soon after 9/11 The National Security Agency started building a database of telephone calls records, aimed at collecting data of every call ever made within the nation’s borders [gasp!]. The agency worked with Bellsouth, Verizon and AT&T (and SBC), under a payed contract, so for these corporation it was a profitable deal. Qwest refused to collaborate.
At the time the deal was made, the cited corporations were headed by:
AT&T, by C. Michael Armstrong;
SBC, by Ed Whitacre;
BellSouth, by F. Duane Ackerman;
Verizon, by Ivan Seidenberg.
Those corporations were asked to turn over a complete listing of the calling histories of their 200+ millions of customers. This includes phone numbers and conversation times. It does not include the actual conversations, nor the people names, although that can be easily gathered with non-classified databases. In addition, the NSA also wanted the carriers to provide updates… just to keep the DB in sync with the calling habits of the nation.
This made up what is today the largest database on Earth.
I for one will try to adopt counter-measures. Qwest only provides service to 14 States (not including California) and anyway even if they are “good” now I have no way to know if they’ll continue to be good. The plan, or “a” plan could be to avoid telephone altogether, and just use VOIP. All we need is a reliable internet connection (which I don’t have right now because Earthlink sucks), good encryption software (like Zfone and others), and a VOIP hard phone (I’ll have to investigate the best choice for the latter). A solution for the cell phone use case might be harder.
There’s work to do, but we can’t live like this. I’ll try to log ideas and solutions as I think them out.