On June 5, Glenn Greenwald publishes an article in the Guardian revealing that the National Security Agency has been collecting the telephone records of millions of US Verizon customers in bulk.
The next day, The Washington Post publishes the details of an Internet surveillance program called PRISM, which shows the NSA obtained direct access to the systems of nine Internet companies, including Google, Facebook, and Apple.
Then on June 8, information about “Boundless Informant,” an NSA tool that helps the organization collect and arrange data according to where it was collected, and how.
Why is this important? With the first revelation, we learn the government can collect the numbers of both parties on a call, as well as information about the duration and the location of parties involved in the conversation. From these unique identifiers – known as a call’s “metadata” – the government can effectively track down the caller, though President Obama denies the government is actually listening in on the content of the calls.
The second revelation – about PRISM – puts major Internet players in a compromising position: according to early PRISM reports, the companies cooperated with government demands to access user data.
Boundless Informant served as an uncomfortable infographic that showed how much data the NSA had been collecting from around the globe.