There was a cute ad on TV some time ago. A guy at a bar asks a girl for her phone number, and then he turns around and gives it to all his buddies.
Not much we do on any electronic network can be considered secure, even if we encrypt the content. The "metadata" will continue to be there, wide open, because the backbones themselves have to use that information. You can't expect to dial a telephone number that the telco nets can't decipher, and expect the call to go through. Ditto with an IP address.
Still, my wife suggests that the Verizons of the world should have alerted their customers, when the feds began requesting untargeted metadata of everything going through their nets. Does that constitute "unreasonable searches and seizures"? At least, it ought to be up for debate. This country was founded on the premise that the government is to be limited and not automatically trusted, and we seem to be forgetting why.
There are multiple levels of Information within the data. When looking for explicit information, it is more about the questions you ask rather than the data you use.
People forget that EVERYTHING they put online is open to ANYONE to see. You cannot cry about an invasion of your personal rights when you have freely put your life into the public domain.
The NSA issue is much ado about nothing.
Its the advertising agencies that pinpoint ads to individuals who are the real bad guys.
After all, they are using your data to sell you more stuff.
Me, I am more than a little annoyed by their intrusion directly into my life than I am about Big Brother looking at message traffic.
Just my opinion.
The obvious challenge of big data is, as the name suggested, the humongous amount of information. NSA is not alone for sure. Google, Facebook and a lot of more, are trying to build a profile of any person and targeting ads to the person. Yet, there is difference between what NSA may try to do and what the other companies are doing. In my opinion, I don't think Google and FB are interested in an individual. They are interested in, rather, a group of individuals that are categorized into a similar profile.
Well! Is NSA interested in an individual? Only they can answer.
What fascinating me the most of profiling is creating categories. How do we category a group of people that we know with confidence they will buy the product on the ads.
Rick raises a really good question, "How do we know if we can trust whoever is on the other end of the connection?" I take it as, in addition, "How do we know the person on the other end is the person we know?"
Profiling, no doubt, is challenging. Given the free email service from various providers, the complexity of profiling will only be increasing.