Whether you love it or hate it, the technology behind it all is here to stay
Poor Edward Snowden. The former NSA subcontractor has sacrificed his career to expose US government surveillance programs that were revealed years ago. Except for minor details, data-mining operations like “PRISM” were outed in 2006, and have been underway since at least 2003. Newspapers may be dinosaurs, but they beat the Internet to this story by seven years.
Note: This article originally appeared in the September 2013 issue of the magazine.
If privacy is one of your main concerns online (and it very well should be given the goings-on lately), Twitter's latest move should please you considerably. The microblogging platform announced on Friday it has taken on "perfect forward secrecy" across its multiple platforms. It may sound a little hard to believe, but the aim is to keep outside organizations from snooping on encrypted traffic.
There's even more than what Google's allowed to show
Everything changed when news of the U.S. government's PRISM spying program came to light. In an instant, we went from assuming our dealings online were mostly kept private (or as private as we wanted them to be) to knowing that virtually nothing is out of bounds, not even instant messaging conversations. The government will contend all this snooping is in the best interest of national security, which also happens to be the same reason why Google can't share certain statistics with us. What the company is able to share, however, is pretty staggering.
Who owns the Internet? That is one question humanity hasn’t been able to answer with any degree of certainty hitherto and things are unlikely to change anytime soon. Now, it may be difficult for us to say who truly controls the Internet, but we can definitely tell you who’s currently behaving like they are the ones who do.
The National Security Agency will, in most cases, be able to access your most private of online data if they want to. Google wants to make sure they aren't forced to comply with the many requests they receive for data, however, as they scramble to encrypt their data centers and protect the precious information -- probably including yours.
While many people in the U.S. are planning barbecues with family and friends, an evening of fireworks, and other ways to celebrate Independence Day, thousands of others are planning to join nationwide rallies in protest against recently revealed spying activities conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA). Dubbed "Restore the Fourth," the effort was put together by Reddit and has drawn support from a number of other online entities, including Mozilla.
Edward Snowden is now officially a criminal on the run from the law, but the US extradition effort just became slightly more challenging. Despite having a canceled US passport, Snowden managed to legally secure transport to Moscow, and WikiLeaks is claiming they are behind the move. Lawyers for the controversial non-profit organization report they were approached by Snowden who requested their assistance, and they seem more than willing to take on the case once he reaches safe harbor. Presumably these are the same lawyers that have shielded WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from Swedish authorities for the past several years, so the chances are high this saga will take a very long time to fully play out if he reaches a country such as Ecuador where extradition can be tricky.
They might not have a choice, but they are fighting it anyway.
Privacy concerns are front and center in the online world these days, and a deal taken by Facebook and Microsoft on government transparency doesn’t pass the Google sniff test. Google claims the offer comes with strings attached they can’t live with, and they appear to be holding out for a better offer.
The source of the NSA leaks have finally been identified, and 29 year old Edward Snowden has come forward as the man responsible. Snowden went on record during an interview with The Guardian, and he answered several questions to help us understand his motivation behind the leaks, and what he hopes it will accomplish.
Privacy advocates are up in arms over reports that the U.S. government is harvesting cell phone and email data from major Internet companies, including Microsoft, Google, and Apple. Through a supposed top secret program codenamed PRISM, the National Security Agency (NSA) and FBI have what appears to be unfettered access to emails, chat logs, voice calls, videos, photographs, documents, and more.