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The NSA Prism Scandal – What It Means To You

Friday, June 14th, 2013

The leaking of the NSA Prism program details has brought the issue of internet surveillance and monitoring into the limelight again. Since almost everyone uses the internet to consume information, communicate online and share data nowadays, the Prism program virtually affects each and every one of us. But what exactly is the Prism program and why should you be worried about it? To get an answer to this question, you need to be aware of how security agencies are collecting your personal information and monitoring your online activities in the name of defending national security.

What is the NSA Prism Program?

The Prism program is a highly classified online monitoring program initiated by National Security Agency (NSA) of United States of America. The program was launched in the year 2007 with an aim to identify credible threats to national security. While the exact details of the program are still emerging, it is clear that NSA collected massive amounts of data from leading internet companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple, AOL, Skype, YouTube and PalTalk. The program exposes the secret collaboration between security agencies and internet giants that was long suspected but was never proven. The details of the program were leaked by the CIA employee Edward Snowden who was working as a contractor with the NSA.

How The NSA Prism Program Directly Affects You?

The scary thing about the Prism program is its scope; it monitors and captures data about entire gamut of online activities like browsing, emailing, social networking, instant messaging, VOIP and video conferencing. So if you have sent email to someone through Gmail or Hotmail, logged into social networking sites like Facebook or called up someone using Skype; it is highly likely that those details were made available to the NSA. Even more disturbing is the fact that the Prism program has full backing of the government and the NSA is free to store the surveillance data for an indefinite period of time.

While the Obama administration is trying to defend the Prism program by saying that the NSA is just collecting metadata and not getting access to actual emails, social activity, VOIP call details or details about what a person does on a particular site; it is evident that the security agencies could get access to those details in case they are interested in collecting that information. Together with the recent revelation that NSA has partnered with Verizon to store call records of millions of unsuspecting Americans, the Prism program represents the biggest breach of trust and privacy that the American citizens have witnessed in the living memory.

Can You Still Protect Your Online Activities From Surveillance?

While it may seem that it is now impossible to protect any kind of web activity from government surveillance, in reality you can still hide your online activities from security agencies. In order to secure your browsing sessions from monitoring, you will have to use an anonymizing service like a virtual private network (VPN) that provides enhanced encryption. However, you will also need to abandon using popular online services from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook since NSA would be able to collect your login details from these companies directly even if you are using a VPN. For total protection from monitoring, it is best to use a VPN in conjunction with offshore email, VOIP and social networking services.

June 14, 2013

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