Unless you’ve been living in a cave hammering AK-47s out of shovels you’ve heard about Edward Snowden and the NSA’s massive network for collecting data on American citizens. The United Kingdom’s Guardian has issued waves of articles about what’s being stored (phone calls, email, chat records, Facebook posts, etc) as well as all the various software programs and Web sites that the government has access to. Learning that Microsoft allows the NSA to directly monitor any Skype communication was an eye opener, and it should make us all wonder how frequently our 4th Amendment rights are violated in the name of security theater.
So, the cat’s out of the bag — we’re being monitored. While people more qualified than I try to answer the question “what do we do about it?,” I may be able to help you answer the question “what does the NSA have on me?”
You can submit a Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) request to the NSA to see what data they’ve collected. If you have filed an FoIA with a government agency before this is not a big deal to you — however for people like me I had no idea what to do.
The Web site My NSA Records, run by Jonathan Corbett, attempts to help people submit their own FoIA. My NSA Records only covers telephone data, but it was an interesting place for me to start.
You can also directly contact the NSA. However, this is just a blank Web form and you have to formulate the request yourself. The advantage to Corbett’s site is that he already wrote boilerplate text for you.
Re: Freedom of Information Act / Privacy Act Request for Phone Records
I hereby request under the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act all records that you have collected corresponding to my phone number, (your phone number). I request a waiver of any fees.
I’m less curious about my phone records and more interested in any data stored about my online activities.
I submitted a request directly to the NSA. I have no idea if it will come back or not; we’ll find out in about a month or so according to FoIA processing estimates.
Here’s what I wrote:
I hereby request under the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act all records that you have collected corresponding to (my full legal name). I request a waiver of any fees.
Stay tuned :\