I and others have written about the spy’s pursuit of meta data. It’s not a problem, it’s not the content you know. This is an image from voice comms; once known as telephone conversations. If you believe this, I suggest you watch “The Wire”. Meta data means “about data”, and consists of the from where, to whom, at what time. With mobile phones, your location can be tracked whether making a call or not. This is meant to be fine, because they don’t review content, i.e. what was said; so that’s OK then. However, the spies think that meta data is the person. An important and wilfully forgotten fact is that with email you can’t separate meta data from content. With web mail, the real meta data is all about the mail provider and maybe the mail client, which is a piece of software; again the meta data they want doesn’t exist as meta data, it is content!
For a lecture on defensive techniques, and an illustration that privacy is a need we all have, check out Alec Muffet’s “Sex, Lies & Instant Messenger”, however, it’s unlikely that good passwords are enough to defend your electronic traffic against the US government (or other state actors, such as GCHQ).
And for fun, just to show these aren’t new problems.
This is from Rowan & Martin’s Laugh in, which was shown between 1968 and 1978.