Forget the Verizon phone records. That’s old news already thanks to the NSA’s ability to snoop on any old American citizen’s Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Skype and Yahoo activity.
Once again, the UK’s Guardian has the scoop. And I have the cliffnotes:
· Through a previously undisclosed hacking program called PRISM, the NSA can directly access Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Skype, Yahoo, etc., accounts. Secure login information can’t stop it either, since the agency is actually accessing these tech giants’ systems to spy on everybody.
· PRISM allows the NSA to gather everything from search history to emails to file transfers and live chats. According to The Guardian, PRISM gives “in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information. The law allows for the targeting of any customers of participating firms who live outside the US, or those Americans whose communications include people outside the US. It also opens the possibility of communications made entirely within the US being collected without warrants.”
· Also according to The Guardian, Microsoft was the first to hop on board the bandwagon in 2007. Yahoo followed suit in 2008. Up next were Google, Facebook and PalTalk the next year. YouTube came on board in 2010, Skype and AOL in 2011, and Apple forked over its customers on a silver platter in 2012. More are expected going forward.
· The NSA says that it has Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Skype, Yahoo, et al’s permission to invade their web space. Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Skype, Yahoo, et al say that’s a lie. Since most of them are happily snuggled up in Obama’s bed, I’m not willing to rule them out as innocent victims at this time.
· President Bush was originally the one to grant the NSA intrusive access through changes to U.S. surveillance law. Obama then renewed it late last year.
· When it was first established, the Bush law allegedly made the NSA accountable to these tech companies. The government wasn’t legally allowed to access electronic communications without proper consent. But PRISM creates a convenient backdoor for the NSA to slip through without permission.
· “A chart prepared by the NSA,” the article reads, “contained within the top-secret document obtained by the Guardian, underscores the breadth of the data [PRISM] is able to obtain: email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP (Skype, for example) chats, file transfers, social networking details, and more... [It] allows the NSA, the world's largest surveillance organisation, to obtain targeted communications without having to request them from the service providers and without having to obtain individual court orders.”
· As Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU’s Center for Democracy, stated, “It’s shocking enough just that the NSA is asking companies to do this. The NSA is part of the military. The military has been granted unprecedented access to civilian communications. This is unprecedented militarization of domestic communications infrastructure.”
Think the Obama administration is allowing all of this for your own good to protect us all? Read yesterday’s blog… and then think again.