What my call history says about me: An investigation on behalf of the NSA

print out of bar chart
This might look like a generic graph printed off of Excel, but it’s a totally serious and legitimate document. Don’t you see the color ink and the blue and yellow bars? It’s legit.

The National Security Agency (NSA) is apparently collecting phone records from millions of Verizon customers.  This comes as part of a top secret court order issued on April 25, 2013.

As a Verizon customer, I’m not overly concerned about the data collection, as I have nothing to hide, other than a few extra pounds, of course.

Don’t worry, though.  I hide those under flowy shirts and long dresses.  Let’s keep that top secret.

What I’m more concerned about is what my call data says about me, and what NSA will gleam from my phone records.

So, I decided to take a look at my call history over the last few days to see what kind of data is being collected on me, and what kind of profile would be created based upon such data.

I’m so patriotic.

The results were disturbing, but then again, if you read my blog and/or posts, you already knew that.  Here’s what my investigation revealed.

<Cue ominous music>

Over the last several days, I’ve made a number of calls to food establishments.

old cell phone
This photo suggests I have a cellular phone from the year 2000. It also suggests I need a manicure. One of these is true.

From calling to obtain hours of operation, to asking if I can use expired coupons from a competing chain, to making reservations under the name “Ivana Humpyu,” the number of calls I’ve made to restaurants is a bit embarrassing.  As a result, I won’t disclose that information.

This is yet another example of my patriotism.

Side note:  I’m beginning to think my extra pounds and my personal goal to eat the entire contents of a buffet table may be logically related.

Second side note:  Ponderosa does not accept expired coupons from Old Country Buffet.  Who knew?  Apparently Ponderosa did.

In addition to food related calls, I also saw an abundance of calls to my doctor.

Granted, there’s a perfectly good reason for the calls, but it still looked suspicious nonetheless.  And no, it wasn’t for warts.

I got those taken care of last visit.

There were also several calls made to Los Angeles in an effort to locate Ryan Gosling’s agent.  I can no longer contact Ry-Ry personally, as the restraining order specifically prohibits “any contact of any kind.”

woman in dress on phone
Isn’t this how everyone calls Ryan Gosling?

If you ask me, Ryan overreacted when he found me taking a much-needed soak in his tub.  Apparently he’s a shower kind of guy.  Noted.

So until the restraining order is released (come on 2015!), I will continue to stalk call his agent for updates on Ry-Ry’s whereabouts.

It’s not a crime to end up at the same place he does, right?  (According to the LAPD, it is a crime if there’s a court order in effect.  Pft!)

That’s as far as I got in my phone record investigation.  At that point I decided I was hungry and needed to order a pizza, follow up with my doctor on that prescription ointment, and then send my love to Ry-Ry.

See?  A totally normal call history.

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23 thoughts on “What my call history says about me: An investigation on behalf of the NSA”

  1. I appreciate your humor on this topic, however, I think somebody should make the case that this is a serious matter given the post-911 erosion of 4th Amendment rights and privacy generally. Sure- the innocuous calling patterns of the average American are of no interest to the NSA–just something to sift through in search of legitimate threats.

    Obviously, WE have nothing to hide and so should having nothing to fear, right?
    This argument, however, turns the presumption of innocence upside down. Our legal system is not supposed to presume guilt; hence the 4th amendment.

    There are several important reasons to take this revelation more seriously…

    1) The possibility that it will be abused by corrupt people in government; this information about your personal calling habits is also shared with other government agencies, and what if you happen to find yourself in some future dispute with an official or are wrongly accused of a crime? Suddenly, your civil rights and privacy may seem a bit more important than you might consider at the moment. (So you feel assured this would only apply to serious, Federal crimes? see point # 3.)

    2) The reality that reporters phone calls are being monitored to uncover government leaks. So what has this to do with me? If you’re at all interested in living in a democracy, with the right to criticize your government when it does wrong, you should be interested in whether reporters are able to report the news. Since reporters rely upon confidential sources in the government who may no longer be willing to talk, you will have no idea what you should be legitimately outraged about. This surveillance program undermines the Fourth Estate of our government– a free press, and therefore, undermines our democracy.

    3) If you don’t take seriously the slow erosion of your privacy, you will grow accustomed to it. Each small change will be accepted as something similar to what we already do or accept, so then it can’t be that horrible. “Well, the government already monitors my phone call metadata, where I’m calling from, and downloads my email, so what’s the big deal that they also record all my phone conversations?”
    Supreme Court Justice Kennedy in the decision this week to approve taking DNA swabs upon arrest–compared them to fingerprinting (what we already do).
    For every revelation of this sort, there are inevitably those who find a way to make it seem like no big deal; not realizing that their acceptance of the death of privacy is part of what creates that very reality. Those who create surveillance policies rely upon the fact that most of us either buy the argument that we must pay for security with liberty, or we are too distracted by or invested in communication technology, or that we really don’t care.

    4) If not for your own sake, consider what kind of society your children or grandchildren might live in as privacy truly dies. Would you want them to be law-abiding citizens based on their own knowledge of what is right versus wrong and their own free will, or based upon their fear of authorities using cameras, RFID tracking chips, and monitoring of all acommunication? By relying more upon external surveillance of behavior, you will inevitably undermine children’s internal moral development; this cannot be good for any society.

    1. Apparently, you don’t get the humor in this and if you are looking for serious news or to have such a long-winded discussion maybe you should vent on CNN.com.

    2. Hi Ben,

      I appreciate your comments. I’m actually a very big “hands off” government kind of gal, so I totally get where you’re coming from, and you make excellent points.

      It’s definitely a slippery slope!

      Thanks for reading and commenting.


    1. Rosey,

      Your daughter is obviously an intelligent woman. And Ry-Ry most DEFINITELY is worth a restraining order…and a face full of mace.

      Hypothetically, of course. 🙂

  2. I would love to call (and have a buffet meal with) Ivana and chat about flowy dresses and Spanx I’ll never wear!

  3. Haha!

    My call history would probably just say “You need to get a life!” The only calls on my list are to/from my mom, husband, and in-laws plus the calls I ignore from bill collectors (though on a rare occasion I’ll answer and eff with them).

    Now my text messages are entirely different story. Food porn and random text messages to the ex-husband, anyone?

    1. You’ve pretty much described my call and text history. Especially the food porn.

      Speaking of which, hook a sister up with a texted photo of chocolate cake. I need a fix!

  4. Very funny!

    (I used to work for Verizon, but please don’t hold that against me.)

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Kathy! I’m so glad you liked it. And I won’t hold the Verizon thing against you. Those employees are just doing their jobs.

      I can only assume you left that job to become a princess of a land far far away.

      1. Oh yes — Princess of the Unemployment Line! My entire department was eliminated because of downsizing. 😛

        It’s a good thing, though, because I am now working at Columbia University where the job security is a lot better and so are the benefits, including the opportunity to take tuition-free classes. I took several creative writing workshops using this benefit!

  5. Lisa,

    I agree with you, my phone list is completely boring ie… kids school, vet, doctor, bi-weekly call to mom to keep her from calling me and wanting to know EVERYTHING (by the way, I will never do that to my kids… I’ve promised them now… I may have to sign something soon). But I am watching my inbox for an email from my Father claiming that his rights are being infringed upon as an american!! Dad, no one cares that you call junkyards and car parts stores, and your occasional friend to discuss the next great deal you’re getting on a POS! Really, the people that cry about this are truely the ones that are so boring, we don’t care who you call, and neither does the NSA!

    1. OMG! If you get that email in your inbox from your father, can you please share it with the rest of the class?! Please.

      I’m awaiting a similar email as well. 🙂

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

    1. Thank you Doreen! I aim to please. The key is to deprive yourself of sleep and then start typing whatever is going on in your brain.

      It’s scary, but that’s my secret.

    1. Thank you so much, Larry! I appreciate the feedback, and you’re right. It definitely makes you want to avoid Verizon. I don’t have that option, as work pays for my phone, but hey, it’s a free phone, so I guess if Verizon wants to give the government the numbers I call, then so be it.

      Small price to pay for a free phone! 🙂

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