The release of classified information about the NSA’s “PRISM” project has highlighted the fact that wiretapping ain’t what it used to be. While some have explained that the data transfers consist of “metadata,” and not “content,” this is a distinction that professionals and laymen find equally baffling. It is a distinction that may have no meaning where our civil liberties are concerned.
Wiretapping used to be the spy game of: Get a court order authorizing a wiretap. Place the device. Make the recording. Listen to the conversation. Get a conviction.
It appears there is a new form of wiretapping where one does not have to listen to the actual conversation to determine what the caller is up to.