MetaPhone study shows how easy it is to link phone number “metadata” to real people


We’ve long known that the U.S. government’s explanation that it only collected “metadata” related to the phone numbers it has been hoovering up over the last several years was a poor attempt at minimizing the value of the data collected by the National Security Agency and revealed by Edward Snowden. But just how easy is it to link a phone number with a real person? Jonathan Mayer of MetaPhone, a project run by Stanford University’s Security Lab hoping to better understand the reach of metadata, wrote a blog post earlier this week outlining how armed with just Google, Intellius, and directories run by Yelp, Google Places, and Facebook, the project identified the people and businesses attached 91 of 100 numbers randomly selected from the project’s opt-in database.

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