Thanks to legal action taken by a German politician, we have access to the kind of surveillance possible using telephone metadata only. This is the kind of information the NSA reportedly collects about all Americans. Michael Kelley of Business Insider reports:
A German politician named Malte Spitz filed a suit against T-Mobile for the release of all the metadata from his phone that had been gathered and stored.
He received 35,830 records - six months worth - and then gave it to ZEIT Online.
From ZEIT (emphasis ours):
"We combined this geolocation data with information relating to his life as a politician, such as Twitter feeds, blog entries and websites, all of which is all freely available on the internet. (snip)
The result is astonishing to watch - a politician's daily movements, phone calls, text messages, and mobile Internet usage over months.
Go to the Zeit page and click on the play button to see the tracing of Spitz's activity possible with telephone metadata. It is an astonishing trip through a stranger's life.
Hat tip: Richard Baehr, Paul Bosakowski