Tried getting a phone number from Directory Assistance – 411 – lately? The telcos outsourced this service long ago and the companies running it cannot find phone numbers for institutions that have existed for a long time, such as the Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington or the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu – or the National Security Agency in Maryland.
This lack of basic information presents a potential money-making opportunity for the National Security Agency, which the whole world learned last week scarfs up the numbers of every phone call made every day in the United States and stuffs it into a metadata file that includes geolocation information.
NSA could tap a Booz Allen Hamilton contractor to crunch all this phone information into an easy to use database sold on a subscription basis to the phone carriers and anyone else who sees value in it, such as Facebook, the second snoopiest outfit on the planet.
Bob Brewin joined Government Executive in April 2007, bringing with him more than 20 years of experience as a journalist focusing on defense issues and technology. Bob covers the world of defense and information technology for Nextgov, and is the author of the “What’s Brewin” blog.