Last week, a former security contractor exposed the elaborate details of a clandestine national security and electronic surveillance program that has been operated by the United States National Security Agency since 2007. PRISM enabled in-depth surveillance on live communications which has allowed the NSA to collect emails, videos, photos, file transfers, login information and detailed data stemming from the social networks of private citizens.
According to government officials, PRISM can NOT be used to collect information on American citizens or those residing within the United States. While the US government recent acknowledged the existence of PRISM, the companies being fingered as the major data providers are vehemently denying any previous knowledge of the program and its existence before the information became public knowledge.
Some of the companies who are being accused as being data providers for this covert operation include Microsoft, Apple, Google and Facebook – companies that have the highest number of regular users and who are sitting on top of databases with information about hundreds of millions of people.
Here are three ways that you may be affected by PRISM:
1. Data logging: There is a decent chance that your information has been logged by the government. While you may Google “Ryan Gosling Memes” or “Evil Goat Videos”, those probably aren’t the types of behaviors the government is mining this data for. Email conversations, text messages, voice mails, videos, and photos all belonging to you may very well big sitting in a database along with billions of other pieces of information from people around the world. Usernames and passwords, stored on the servers of the companies being named, could also be logged by the government.
2. Hacker Issues: Just imagine what the results would be if a hacker group was able to access the extensive information collected by the government. Identities could be stolen, overall fraud would increase and national security would be at a very high risk.
3. You Probably Won’t: Well, the chances of the government mining this seemingly endless collection of data on Internet users to find specific information on an individual who is not deemed a threat to others are pretty slim. The fact that the government actually has that information is really a violation of privacy, but the PRISM program will most likely not have a significant impact on you as an individual.
While your privacy may have been violated, your personal information most likely has not been made public to the masses. It is concerning to know that the government and potentially hackers can use this data as leverage against people, but you can rest assured – at least for tonight.
We will update this post as the story develops.