09Feb, 2017

Shattering The PRISM

An in-depth look into government technology snooping

Exploding in 2013 The Guardian and Washington Post simultaneously exposed PRISM to the tech world. A surreptitious affiliation between the FBI, NSA and the majority of tech companies we have come to depend on were disclosing the private details of citizens at an unprecedented rate. Trailing more than a seven year period, PRISM provided the government with an infinite number of people’s private details, all with no target required.

An In-Depth Look

PRISM – The Private Government Program Costing $20 million per year PRISM is no small project, however, only now has a federal judge for the first time acknowledged the existence of PRISM. Referring to it by name despite the general knowledge and acceptance of it from early 2013. Initiated in 2007 according to leaked documents its purpose claimed intentions were to intercept important foreign communications. Under the scope, this proved to be merely the surface of the overall intent.

With the major tech companies providing the NSA with mass amounts of data almost one in seven intelligence reports,as reported by the Washington Post were written using PRISM data, statistics unforeseen before.

How So how does Yahoo, Facebook, Google, Apple, Skype, Microsoft, and much more (yet not Twitter) leave users of their services vulnerable to the exposure of personal data?

Both the Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General issue a directive to a tech company to permit access to their information overloaded servers. Obtained by the Data Intercept Technology Unit, FBI the acquired information is forwarded to the NSA.

Direct Access A term used referring to the access tech companies provide to the NSA, ‘direct access’ is alleged as part of the program. Despite being refuted by the government and similarly the majority of Tech companies, the acceptance this was occurring on an unthinkable scale is apparent. Further information suggests that major players such as Google were creating secure portals for the NSA that though may not be deemed direct access technically, the operation acted as such anyway.

It seems ironic that the NSA, a national security provider would access public data despite the legal restriction to monitor foreign correspondence only. The twist here is that the filters we expect to be in place, you know the one’s that ensure the baddies are tracked and not innocent, law abiding citizens just going about their day? Well, wait for it…there is only one filter, just one! So it must be very high tech then? Yeah, well it isn’t. An NSA employee, just one, analyses all intercepted data and if they deem the subject to be foreign with a probability of over 50%, well the sky’s the limit with data access. Stupid right? Just one human filter. Quite odd really.

Ignorant of claims this is nothing to worry about, many everyday people are ‘trapped’ by this filter, and this should be of major concern for everyone!

So What Can Be Accessed? Further reports by the Washington Post lay claims to a higher concern of exactly what data the NSA is actually collecting. Terrifyingly personal information and data are available. This includes, but is in no way limited to conventional telephone calls, connection logs, documents, photo’s, email’s, both audio and video chats, the list is endless. Accessed through all the previously mentioned Tech companies, for most, this means all your online activity ever is exposed. Shocking!

The Scale Of PRISM Not long before the scandal broke out information on a program ‘tapping’ phone logs was exposed. Comparatively no threat, this was limited to Verizon customers and though collected metadata did not obtain the actual call contact, unlike PRISM’s complete access.

PRISM provides for on the spot monitoring and is able to view your current screen, so long as you passed the one, human, tester. Ridiculous to say the least. Completely invasive is what it is. Could it be that nothing is private anymore? The Extent Of The Disputed Tech Companies Cooperation

With Microsoft alleged as the first corporate on board, their alliance was settled way back in 2007, right at the actual implementation point, others, one-by-one offered compliance, with Apple appearing their compliance was much more recent as shown below.

When PRISM Data Collection Began Microsoft – September 2007 Yahoo – May 2008 Google – January 2009 Facebook – June 2009 YouTube – September 2010 Skype – February 2011 AOL – May 2011 Apple – October 2012

But why would these Tech companies we have trusted so greatly deceive us? The answer to this is, in the event they did not comply, these companies recognise that this leaves them exposed to possible legal action from the government. This could not only be unduly expensive but even ruinous. Manipulating maybe, the government does provide them with incentive. In the accordance with ‘nothing in life is ever free’, the Government DOES provide the Tech companies with a proportional financial incentive.

The problem lays in that despite the stagnant denials, the proof goes beyond structural pattern recognition, there is categorical evidence. Furthermore, concerning it may be, it is actually legal, still continuing and is showing no signs of ceasing such rights.

The background… In 2007 the Bush administration was caught out and forced to cease operations of an indefensible operation initiated in 2001. Undisclosed, the decision was made to re-home the initiative. Quickly erected for obvious purpose, the Protect America Act 2007 act instated now allowed for such provisions. Reinforced the 2008 FISA Amendments Act protected companies from passing information over to the government. With these two Acts in place, PRISM was now in full power.

Including the governments of today, no apology or recognition seems apparent. Being the law makes it easy to follow. Why would anyone deny what they apparently don’t have to?

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