One of the hottest topics hitting the news is the breaches of public privacy that have been in effect, and are planned to take place in the future. While people are still wrapping their head around the leaked documents of the National Security Agency (NSA) that highlights the cell phone monitoring and surveillance related to Verizon, another concern has emerged. The agency is also interested in tapping into Internet activity with their code-named program called PRISM.
NSA is once again in the hot seat as the agency has reportedly has the ability to the central servers of major Internet companies in the United States. Classified under a code name, the secret program aims to monitor emails, file transfers, photos, videos, and chatting activities. A scary thought is the existence of a program that has the capabilities to conduct live surveillance on the keywords and phrases that we enter into search engines.
Sources that come forward because they find it highly inappropriate to cross certain boundaries are the saving grace that the public needs to become aware of such activities. In this instance, a career intelligence officer spilled the beans on the PRISM program, and expressed the ‘horror’ they felt on just how intrusive the program can be. The source told news reporters that the program can literally watch ideas form as a person is typing.
Leaked PowerPoint presentation slides supply the bulk of details regarding the program, and those participating in the effort include Internet giants, such as Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple. That’s not a good sign since the majority of our online communications involve in some form or another one of the before mentioned companies.
The Washington Post was the lucky recipient of the classified PowerPoint slides that reveal the details of the PRISM program. The next time you Google something, prying eyes might be ‘watching.’ For instance, the Post states that the system lets NSA monitor Google’s Gmail, voice and video chat, Google Drive (formerly Google Docs), photo libraries, and live surveillance of searches.
If agents feel that a target is participating in “terrorism, espionage or nuclear proliferation,” they can use the spy system to infiltrate Facebook’s “extensive search and surveillance capabilities.” What is scary about the PRISM program is that it deals with communications content, and they have the ability to pry and analyze wherever they please.
Allowing the PRISM program to conduct their monitoring activities is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, where the NSA doesn’t even have to disclose that they’ve obtained a secret court order to lawfully intercept communications from foreign targets”¦.and in some cases, the communications may include Americans.
Established in 2007, the program helped NSA analysts spy on Internet communications as part of the agency’s foreign intelligence-gathering efforts. PRISM allowed analysts to zero in on search terms that would provide important information regarding the ‘foreignness’ in a target. It has been noted that the program training materials did tell beginner analysts to submit U.S. content that had been ‘accidentally collected’ for a quarterly report.
Therefore, if you were worried about the phone records that Verizon has been grabbing, then the intrusiveness of the PRISM program is sure to make you think twice about the conversations, correspondences, and searches that you engage in across the Web.