Is the NSA Watching Me?
On June 6, 2013, The Guardian and The Washington Post published leaked documents from NSA contractor Edward Snowden about an NSA clandestine national security electronic surveillance program called PRISM.
PRISM is a government code name for a data collection effort known officially by the SIGAD US-984XN. The program is operated under the supervision of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
Up until the leaked documents were published, the public was unaware of the existence of PRISM, yet the public widely assumed the government monitored online communication and digital communication from and between suspected terrorists.
However, Snowden claimed the extent of mass data collection was far greater than the public knew, and included "dangerous" and "criminal" activities in law.
A document included in the leak indicated that PRISM was "the number one source of raw intelligence used for NSA analytic reports." The leaked information came to light one day after the revelation that the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court 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.
The leaked documents included 41 PowerPoint slides, four of which were published in news articles. The documents identified several technology companies as participants in the PRISM program, including (date of joining PRISM in parentheses) Microsoft (2007), Yahoo! (2008), Google (2009), Facebook (2009), Paltalk (2009), YouTube (2010), AOL (2011), Skype (2011), and Apple (2012). The speaker's notes in the briefing document reviewed by The Washington Post indicated that "98 percent of PRISM production is based on Yahoo, Google and Microsoft".
U.S. government officials have disputed some aspects of the Guardian and Washington Post stories and have defended the program by asserting it cannot be used on domestic targets without a warrant, and that the program receives independent oversight from the executive, judicial, and legislative branches.
Yet, such government reassurance did little to reassure a US public who's conspiracy theories of a Big Brother from 1984 seemed to have been confirmed.
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