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US Government Internet Surveillance of Your E-mail

Friday, June 14th, 2013

The revelations about the NSA Prism program have come as a rude shock to most Americans. While most online users would be open to limited amount of surveillance and monitoring, the sheer scope and audacity of the Prism program has stunned even the most diehard supporters of online surveillance. Before Edward Snowden leaked the details of the program to the media, most people would have never imagined that the US Government is spying on their every online communication. Read on to discover how NSA is snooping on your emails and what can be done about it.

The NSA Prism Program

The NSA Prism program is a joint collaboration between National Security Agency (NSA) and the who’s who of the Silicon Valley including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, AOL and YouTube. The program, which was initiated in 2007, was designed to identify threats to American security by capturing and monitoring large amount of user data. Microsoft was the first company to join the program in the year 2007; Yahoo came onboard in 2008 while the rest of the companies followed soon thereafter.

Email Surveillance Through Prism Program

The Prism program is different from many other online surveillance programs in the sense that it has widened the scope of activities that come under monitoring. For instance, monitoring emails was considered as a sensitive subject in the past but it has become a reality under the NSA surveillance program. The NSA has access to servers from Yahoo, Google, AOL and Microsoft which together represent a major chuck of email users in the United States.

The Obama administration is trying to pacify the American public by saying that the Prism program only captures email metadata and it doesn’t provide access to actual emails. However, it can be argued that the NSA is already aware about our emailing habits since it is privy to recipient names, date and time of our emails and other vital email metadata. The tech companies, on the other hand, are denying that they allowed NSA to capture data from their servers. While it is possible that the companies did not provide a direct access to their servers, it is also becoming increasing evident that they did offer some kind of backdoor access (possibly through an API) to the NSA.

How to Keep Your Emails Safe From Surveillance?

To keep your emails totally safe from surveillance and monitoring, you will have to start using an anonymizing program like a virtual private network (VPN) and abandon using US based email service providers like Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook (formerly Hotmail). Using a VPN would ensure that your ISP is not able to monitor your internet traffic and avoiding US based email services will take care of email surveillance by the NSA. It is not possible to avoid surveillance just by using a VPN since the NSA is already having access to email servers from a majority of US based email service providers. Using a VPN with an offshore based email service provider is the best way to go forward if you want to shield your emails from online surveillance.

June 14, 2013

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