In a new leak from the US National Security Agency, whistleblower Edward Snowden has revealed a massive clandestine program to surveil the entire world. The program, dubbed "Project Prism" allows the NSA to subpeona any group it pleases, and identify all of their user information and activity on their services. These subpeonas also come with gag orders, so if a company is presented with one of these from the NSA, not only do they have to give up the information, but they cannot disclose to anyone that the information was compromised.
Proponents defend the program stating that it is targetted only at non-US citizens. However, leaked training materials for project Prism show that the complex algorithm only allows a 51% confidence interval that the persons it drags out of their data mines are foreign. Furthermore, Americans are often bled out of the system via further data collection on all of the social connections of a person of interest. Training materials for Prism reveal that it is routine to pull data about all of the contacts of a user "2 hops" out from the person of interest. Even worse, those same proponents don't address the involvement of the FBI in project prism. They also have access to the data and would not have the "foreign-only" limitation the NSA is restrained with. This would explain why the FBI is interested in fining all communications companies that do not comply with the Feds to build a "backdoor" into their communications apps up to $15000 per day. Recent actions taken to allow the Feds better access to iChat have also drawn attention.
The companies listed as "in the program" are alarming. They include:
Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, AOL, Skype, Paltalk, Youtube, and Apple.
Servces that are mentioned are:
Yahoo Mail, Gmail, Youtube, Outlook, Hotmail, Skype, AIM, AOL Mail, Paltalk, Drop Box, iChat, Yahoo Messenger, Google Hangouts, Picasa, iCloud, Google Drive, Google Maps Queries, Google+, Android Location Data, iOS Location Data, Flickr, Tumblr (recently acquired by Yahoo) and even search engine queries that are done while logged in.
Separate programs have been identified that subpeona American companies for metadata (location, number dialed, time called, time hung up) about phone calls and possibly smartphone activity.
The need to protect yourself from unwanted intrusion into your life is ever-growing. Protect yourself by both avoiding large, known compromised services, and encrypting and anonymizing your internet activity wherever possible.
It is only a matter of time before these giant stockpiles of data are exploited.
Data was sourced from: