The NSA isn’t too open about what it can achieve with the data it collects. Science to the rescue: a team of researchers at Stanford started a project to learn how much information can be drawn from the logs of phone calls and texts. “The project is called “Metaphone” and searches volunteers who are are willing to share their data with the researchers.
Participants have to live in the United States, be at least 18 years old and use an Android device. They have to download the “MetaPhone” App from Google Play. Afterwards, the mobile phone will transmit device logs and social network information to the team of researchers at Stanford University. The scientists explain: “Device data will include records about your recent calls and text messages. Social network data will include your profile, connections, and recent activity.” They insist that the data will be deleted after it has been analyzed for the study.
On it’s website, the team writes “Research staff will take reasonable precautions to secure the data in transit, storage, analysis, and destruction.” They aim to proof that the collection of metadata is the same as surveillance – something NSA and US politicians claim is not the case. “Like many computer scientists, we strongly disagree,” writes Jonathan Mayer, PhD student at Stanford and member of the Stanford Security Lab in an explanation of the project. “Phone metadata is inherently revealing. We want to rigorously prove it—for the public, for Congress, and for the courts.”
Once they have collected anough crowdsourced data, the team wants to present it’s findings to the public.