CNET News Video: Android app shows how revealing phone metadata can be
About Video Comments (0 ) Transcript

CNET News Video: Android app shows how revealing phone metadata can be

2:29 /

To learn what the NSA can glean from metadata, Stanford students developed Metaphone, an app that analyzes phone records. How sensitive was the uncovered info? CNET's Sumi Das reports.

When it comes to phone metadata, the government and computer scientists have largely been on opposite sides of the privacy debate. No doubt ah,ah, the defense of the NSA's program was it's just metadata. And so, it seemed to us it would be worth the time to try to see whether that claim was true empirically. Metadata includes details like the number dialed, the time of the call, and duration. Just how sensitive is that information. According to research done by Stanford PhD student Jonathan Mayer and his partner. Very. They created an Android app, MetaPhone, that asked users to volunteer their phone records in an effort to learn what can be uncovered from metadata. More than 500 people signed up. We began by identifying. The organizations associated with the phone numbers in our dataset. And we did that primarily using phone books provided by Yelp and by Google. Totally public, totally easy to access. With the help of Facebook phone directory feature, people searched services and Google. More than 90% of the numbers were quickly identified. We noted when a business was. A firearms dealer. We noted when a business was a health service provider. Users also place calls to religious organizations, financial services and marijuana dispensary. Also NSA surveillance is limited to two or three degrees of separation from an original suspect the MetaPhone App illustrates how the program can reach many people. Through these numbers are very popular like. Got T-Mobile's voice mail number. Or FedEx, or Delta Airlines. or, one of my favorites, telemarketers. These, these spam phone calls, which call loads and loads of people. and, the NSA's rules don't, prohibit the agency from following those hops. Mayer and his partner plan to examine the data further, to see if other information can be found. They'll focus on text messages next. And they're working on something called a dating detector. They'd like what do computer science people do on a weekend I guess. We don't go on dates we just build systems for detecting people going on dates. And so we built a machine learning system for identifying participants who were weren't in a romantic relationship. It all raises very real privacy concerns about what happens when our phone records and public information reveal very personal affairs. In Stanford, California, I'm Sumi Das, for CBS news.

New releases

How Radical became Radical
7:50 July 30, 2014
In just 17 years Radical has grown into one of the most important names in British motorsport. XCAR caught...
Play video
Camping apps
1:02 July 30, 2014
You reserved your campsite, packed the car with your tent, stove, and bug spray, and are about to head into...
Play video
Recover deleted images
3:30 July 29, 2014
Accidentally deleted or formatted your camera's memory card? Restore and undelete all those photos with this...
Play video
2014 BMW 328d xDrive Sports Wa...
7:00 July 29, 2014
Wagons are hot and diesels are hot. Brian Cooley checks out how well BMW combines the hotness in the 328d...
Play video
The WD My Book Duo is an excellent...
2:54 July 29, 2014
The WD My Book Duo offers up to 12TB of storage space and gives fast performance, but CNET editor Dong Ngo...
Play video
Tomorrow Daily 026: Pure lithium...
21:22 July 29, 2014
Today's show features some enterprising hackers who modded an ATM to play Doom, Stanford researchers discovering...
Play video
Trick yourself into working out...
3:47 July 29, 2014
If you hate exercise but love games, Donald Bell showcases a few apps that can help improve your health s...
Play video
The voice-activated Ivee Sleek...
1:46 July 29, 2014
This $200 voice control home assistant isn't quite ready for prime time.
Play video

Video discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre