The PRISM Program

600308_10151639735858189_11183665_nAccording to the Washington Post the NSA and FBI have been tapping directly in to the servers of nine of the biggest US Internet companies including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL, Facebook and Apple.  Per the document obtained by the Washington Post “Colllection directly from the servers of these US Service Providers…”

Does this make you worried?  It probably should.  It’s the kind of unfettered access to what we believed was our private lives that many of us never thought we’d see happen.

Jameel Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union said “I would just push back on the idea that the court has signed off on it, so why worry? This is a court that meets in secret, allows only the government to appear before it, and publishes almost none of its opinions. It has never been an effective check on government.”  And as of Tuesday June 11, 2013 the ACLU has begun a push back.  The ACLU and NYCLU have challenged the constitutionality of the NSA’s telephone surveillance program, leaving many to speculate that their challenge to the PRISM Program won’t be far behind.

These revelations have brought back into sharp focus the discussion about how much people and businesses should trust the information they are putting in the cloud.

Several of these service providers are already trying to salvage their reputations. Google has sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller asking to be allowed to disclose more details about the government’s demands for emails and other information that people transmit online.

Victor Mayer-Schonberger, professor of Internet governance and regulation at the Oxford Internet Institute said, “If you violate that (the public’s) trust, it is difficult to re-establish… These companies depend on their users being sufficiently trusting to give them personal data. Many of us are perfectly fine for these companies to use this information for their own commercial benefit…but we do not want it passed on to the government or to tax authorities for instance.” 5826_672764516071990_654969851_n

Mayer-Schonberger seems to have gotten right to the  heart of the issue, most people today know that those big companies are mining our information to sell to advertisers and the like, but the idea that our information is being used and stored in massive data storage facilities is unnerving.

On the other hand this may hearken a return to the local ISP for many hosting and email users. Even though they are free @gmail @msn @yahoo, may now be less appealing, than paying an annual fee to a local company for your own domain name and email account that is not so easily accessed.

For 10 years we’ve seen the local ISPs closing as the larger ISPs offered more and more services at no charge. Perhaps now we will experience a new revitalization of the few local ISPs left and a new generation of local ISPs will join the market!


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