Spying explained; six degrees of separation

This morning I was reading some articles posted on a web site I help run and found some interesting information.  Then I started doing some math.  First, here’s the links so you can follow along, please note these are out of the UK, NOT the United States:



Now… there’s a little thing called Six degrees of separation which is the theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps.  Facebook and other social media sites understand this theory well and use it, and in fact have experimented with it, as has Microsoft in the Internet world.

Because of this “theory” the NSA is connected to ALL of us, whether we think so or not.

My basic math (and I can’t promise it is 100% accurate, but it should be close enough for “government work”) is shown next and the notes I wrote go to along with it a while ago.

“The court has approved us to go out two or three ‘hops,’ ” said NSA deputy director John Inglis. “And it’s often at the second hop that information is gained that leads the FBI to investigate the person’s contacts further.”

A “hop” refers to the way in which analysts broaden their analysis. When analysts believe they have cause to suspect an individual, they will look at everyone that person has contacted, called the first “hop” away from the target. Then, in a series of exponential ripples, they look at everyone all those secondary people communicated with. And from that pool, they go on to look at everyone all those tertiary people contacted. This is called a second and a third “hop.”  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/17/nsa-surveillance-house-hearing

Hmmm sez I….

Here’s an exponential growth function:

y = a(1 + b)x
  • y: Final amount remaining over a period of time
  • a: The original amount
  • x: Time
  • The growth factor is (1 + b).
  • The variable, b, is percent change in decimal form.

Ok, let me show you this.

Baseline: 1 person connects to 10 people. Each of those 10 connect to 10 more. Each of those connect to another 10 and on the last hop ALL of the last group connects to yet another 10.

If I am doing my math right, at the end of the 3rd hop 1331 people have been “touched”.

If you push that out to say, 12 hops, just for clarity, the number jumps to 3,138,428,376,721 people!

Since that’s a little more than lives on the entire planet, six hops would touch almost everyone in Colorado Springs and Denver Colorado at a total 1,771,561 (combined population of those two cities: 426,388 + 619,968 = 1046356 and I live in the one to the south.)

While the NSA says “limited to 2 or 3 hops” this is really NOT the case, I’m certain. They would, if they saw someone on the 3rd hop of interest skip even further out to make the connections on THAT one guy, and then go out “another 3 hops”. I’m betting on the fact they are trying to connect person X to a terrorist group, or to criminal activity and if they happen to run across anyone else who just happens to be doing something “questionable” (like running a Patriot web site, blog or is very outspoken, say… like most of us) they wouldn’t hesitate to add us to the “list” to go and check OUR connections to several levels thereby making the connection that we are somehow connected to some other guy (whom we actually don’t know, never met, never heard of, but he might have read our blog and we his….) whom they consider “Dangerous”.  Thus, we are now connected to a might-be terrorist (in their eyes).

There is a rather well known concept called “Six Degrees of Separation” which social media sites like FaceBook and Twitter are CLEARLY aware about.


A Facebook platform application named “Six Degrees” was developed by Karl Bunyan, which calculates the degrees of separation between different people. It had over 5.8 million users, as seen from the group’s page. The average separation for all users of the application is 5.73 degrees, whereas the maximum degree of separation is 12. The application has a “Search for Connections” window to input any name of a Facebook user, to which it then shows the chain of connections. In June 2009, Bunyan shut down the application, presumably due to issues with Facebook’s caching policy; specifically, the policy prohibited the storing of friend lists for more than 24 hours, which would have made the application inaccurate.[24] A new version of the application became available at Six Degrees after Karl Bunyan gave permission to a group of developers led by Todd Chaffee to re-develop the application based on Facebook’s revised policy on caching data

In 2008 Microsoft “proved” the concept (http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology…internet.email) and essentially used global connections via the internet, examined something like 30 billion messages to do their proof. I’m not sure it’s completely accurate, but the point is simple.

If you are the NSA, and you data mine my telephone calls, you will find I talk to about 10 people on a regular basis (hence my initial number 10) and I actually have roughly 30 people stored in my phone. Some I don’t talk to often, but I do text, call or message them in some manner. Now if each of those 10 talk to 10 and those 10 talk to 10 others eventually you connect to someone who is either a criminal, terrorist or a saint.

No matter how it goes, how it works or what they eventually use all that collected data for, it’s invasive as hell and puts us all at “risk” of being labeled with whatever label “they” want.  Depending on the Administration it could be good, or it could be bad.

This is why this is SO important.  Obama doesn’t want us to “listen to those voices”

In fact what he would have us believe is that the Government is what gives us everything, and takes away that which it wants on a whim.  He wants us to believe he is a King, not a President, even though he plays lip service to being “President” – in truth he is likely only a puppet for the Progressives and Communists controlling his speech and actions.

As a bonus, I found this link posted about 15 hours ago and had written the above before I found it.  Please view it as well:  http://gigaom.com/2013/07/17/six-degrees-of-separation-nsa-style/