The National Security Agency Might Be Violating Our Online Privacy

PRISM ScandalSeveral news sources have recently reported on PRISM, a secret program the National Security Agency has been using in order to get access to emails, documents, chat conversations and voice calls, whereas Silicon Valley high-tech companies including Google and Apple are denying this type of relationship with the government. Moreover, Facebook declared that the company doesn’t grant the government direct access to its servers, while Microsoft claimed to provide user information only if there is a legally binging order involved. We asked our Zintro experts how much users’ privacy will be affected with the NSA’s reach into the social media.

According to Steve McGeown, an expert in marketing and product management, phone call data records don’t actually generate substantial volumes of data as opposed to the contemporary big data conventions and the NSA has been processing this type of information for several years. “The fact that a court order had been obtained for Verizon to provide this along with other communications companies in the US is only surprising in the way that one asks ‘Really? This is a surprise to you?’ In certain central offices, it is well known that there are closed-door areas where only those with NSA credentials have access to; not even the technicians from the phone company can access these areas,” he explains. “There is basically documented evidence of not simply wire-tapping, but essentially ‘country-tapping’ by the NSA dating back to 2001.” As McGeown further mentions, it is relatively easy to find a significant amount of data on public electronic intelligence from the past few years, simply by Googling NSA Echelon or FBI Carnivore. “Why should Prism surprise anyone? More capabilities to process big data, more deliciously easily available data up in the cloud. Sure, maybe its a wake-up call for companies to be suddenly interested just what country their data actually rests in, at any point in time in ‘the cloud’, but frankly, they were asleep at the wheel if they only have concerns now simply after hearing about Prism,” notes McGeown. “As these programs throw enormous resources in terms of raw computing power at these advertising opportunities for internet companies, and detection issues for spy agencies, we basically move from a concept of ‘declared identity’ via sign-on to “recognition of identity” via data. Put another way, Google will soon know who you are by the very data available on your location, your likes, your status and so forth.” McGeown also believes that the NSA will soon be capable of analyzing information almost within the 99% confidence interval in order to decide how much damage your actions could cause. “This approach won’t sit well with many people. But the fact is, you have an intelligence apparatus who took enormous abuse for incidents like 9/11 or the Boston Marathon, and you have all this data available to them to ostensibly detect plots and prevent them,” he adds. “They are going to look under every stone, data not only potentially fingers the guilty but it does free the innocent.”

By Idil Kan

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