In a brand new interview on NBC, Snowden lays out why the central focus on meta-data is backwards: costing us more than just money while failing to provide more safety, and also costing us our rights on the side.
It is not a secret that essentially all data on the internet travels through major regional servers and international bottlenecks. There are only a little more than 100 of these “bottleneck” or “root” servers, through which all data must travel to reach its target. Although discussion tends to focus on your desktop, the existence of root servers is frequently overlooked.
At these bottlenecks, of which there exist less than 30, your data can be effectively catalogued, sorted, and stored. This happens totally independently from what browser you use, which service provider you have.
This video explains essentially how the internet works, neglecting the higher level of complexity which are these international bottlenecks also called root servers.
These root servers are likely the primary nodes through which our internet data is gathered and processed by governments. It is already established that learning based programs (for example the Narus nSystem) are being applied to this data: sorting every internet user into theoretical boxes based on their behavior. The danger this creates, for instance the sorting of citizens into “harmless” and “dissidents,” makes the potential for abuse far in excess of any legitimate use.
As Snowden says in the clip above, “Are we trying to throw money at a magic solution, that’s actually not just costing us our safety, but our rights and our way of life?”