What Is PRISM?
PRISM was launched in December 2007.
The Washington Post and the London-based Guardian have reported the National Security Agency and the FBI are siphoning personal data from the main computer servers of nine major U.S. Internet firms. Google, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and PalTalk.
The program allegedly enables the feds to gather information from these companies’ servers directly…
PRISM is an electronic surveillance program, used to “manage foreign intelligence” collected from Internet and other electronic service providers and classified as top secret, that has been run by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) since 2007. PRISM, which stands for “Planning Tool for Resource Integration, Synchronization, and Management”, is a government codename for a collection effort known officially as US-984XN.
Data which the NSA is able to obtain under PRISM allegedly includes email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice over IP conversations, file transfers, login notifications and social networking details.
According to the Director of National Intelligence, PRISM can’t be used to intentionally target any Americans or anyone in the United States.
The leaked information came to light one day after the revelation that the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) had been requiring the telecommunications company Verizon to turn over to the NSA logs tracking all of its customers’ telephone calls on an ongoing daily basis.
NSA whistleblower William Binney has stated that PRISM is just another source of input of information. The telecoms were giving NSA access to their communication lines while a parallel program, code-named BLARNEY, gathers up metadata as it streams past choke points along the backbone of the Internet.
The PRISM program has been sucking up what most people would think of as personal information on Google, Facebook, Skype, and other Internet providers.
It’s a top secret program to indiscriminately sweep the Internet for audio, video, photographs, emails and web searches while looking for “suspicious behavior”.
The news that broke days ago how Verizon is supplying a wealth of call data to the NSA, is said to be just the tip of the iceberg. The Wall Street Journal is also reporting that Sprint and AT&T are also involved in similar surveillance programs, and a number of other tech companies are participating in the top secret data mining program for the FBI and NSA.
It seems that Verizon monitoring is just the beginning of a much bigger spying program by U.S. intelligence officers, and the Washington Post reports this has been a critical part of President Barack Obama’s daily briefing.
The ease with which the government can allegedly monitor suspected sources is chilling. “They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,” the Post quotes a government officer as saying.
The Guardian reported Saturday, “A far fuller picture of the exact operation of PRISM, and the other surveillance operations brought to light, is expected to emerge in the coming weeks and months.”
We shall see… In the mean time, know this… everything you do online is being swept up.
UPDATE: NSA WHISTLEBLOWER COMES FORWARD
The 29-year-old source behind the biggest intelligence leak in NSA history…
“I realised that I was part of something that was doing far more harm than good… The NSA routinely lies in response to Congressional inquiries about scope of surveillance in America. The NSA is intent on making every conversation and every form of behaviour in the world known to them…. What they’re doing poses an existential threat to democracy.”
– Edward Snowden