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EFF Outlines How To End Mass Surveillance

Friday, March 27th, 2015

The Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) has just put together a master plan that it says could end global mass surveillance. Ever since Edward Snowden leaked details about NSA’s PRISM program, mass surveillance conducted by NSA and the likes has been a hot topic of discussion all around the world. However, EFF believes that there is a legitimate chance to fight back and stop the surveillance activities carried out by the intelligence activities. Here are some of the important steps outlined by the organization to fight the menace:

1) Persuade Tech companies not to co-operate with the NSA – Since the NSA mostly relies on products and technologies developed by Silicon Valley companies to carry out its surveillance activities, EFF believes that convincing tech companies not to co-operate with the intelligence agencies is fundamental to stopping mass surveillance. Thanks to Snowden’s revelations, we already know that the NSA has created backdoors in many popular tech products to get unrestricted access to personal data of millions of people. Snowden even named nine major tech companies (Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, YouTube, AOL, PalTalk and Skype) that were helping the NSA to gather data. While some of these companies have made their products more secure post Snowden revelations, EFF believes that they can do a lot more and put a major roadblock in NSA’s surveillance plans.

2) Educate public – Apart from taking help from the tech companies, EFF believes that it is also necessary to educate the general public about the surveillance practices of the intelligence agencies and the need to secure their personal data and online communications. As things stand now, most people are not even aware that their personal data is being shared with the intelligence agencies every time they browse online, send an email or private message or make a phone call.

EFF believes that it can play a vital role in educating people about mass surveillance. The organization has already put together a Surveillance Self Defense website (https://ssd.eff.org/) that offers tips and tricks to stay secure online plus it also plans to educate people on tools like encryption. To that effect, the organization has published a Seecure Messaging Scoracard (https://www.eff.org/secure-messaging-scorecard) which rates different messaging applications as per the security features built within them.

3) Develop a robust legal framework – The EFF also seeks to make surveillance laws more transparent and less favorable to the intelligence agencies. This appears to be the most difficult part of the EFF’s plan since current laws favor the government agencies and give them limitless powers to carry out surveillance as they see fit. However, if there is a strong political will then such obstacles can definitely be overcome and surveillance powers of the NSA can be curbed. The EFF also recommends to create a team of global stakeholders who can fight surveillance in different countries and defend the rights of ordinary citizens.

It is clear that the road ahead is bumpy as far as the issue of mass surveillance is concerned. However, it is heartening to see that privacy organizations are doing their bit to defend the privacy rights of a common man.

March 27, 2015

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