The government is spying on essentially everything we do. It is not just "metadata" ... although that is enough to destroy your privacy
The government has adopted a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act which allows it to pretend that "everything" is relevant ... so it spies on everyone. For example, the NSA "oversight" court believes the mere claim that terrorists use the phone system is enough to show that all phone records are relevant
NSA whistleblowers say that the NSA collects all of our conversations word-for-word
It's not just the NSA ... Many other agencies, like the FBI and IRS – concerned only with domestic issues - spy on Americans as well. The Drug Enforcement Administration has had direct access to AT&T phone records for 25 years
The information gained through spying is shared with federal, state and local agencies, and they are using that information to prosecute petty crimes such as drugs and taxes.
The agencies are instructed to intentionally "launder" the information gained through spying, i.e. to pretend that they got the information in a more legitimate way ... and to hide that from defense attorneys and judges