The news last week that the US government had collected Verizon’s “metadata” on who had called whom when and from where was widely seen as a stunning revelation. Timothy B. Lee of the Washington Post warned:
For example, having the calling records of every member of Congress would likely reveal which members kept mistresses, which could be used to blackmail members of Congress into supporting a future president’s agenda. Calling records could also provide valuable political intelligence, such as how frequently members of Congress were talking to various interest groups.
Likewise, Jane Mayer reported for The New Yorker:
…in the world of business, a pattern of phone calls from key executives can reveal impending corporate takeovers.
And yet informed observers have assumed for most of this century that American telephone metadata may well already be available to a foreign military-intelligence complex via hypothesized “backdoors” coded into complex commercial software.