Is it Time to Democratize the Internet?

DQI Bureau
New Update

The internet is a monster, and total policing of that monster was thought to be impossible, or keeping a tab on what people are putting on their Facebook walls, or what they are tweeting, or the mails they send. But the latest revelation by 29-year-old Edward Snowden, a former CIA technical assistant, in a damning revelation to media has exposed the US National Security Agency's (NSA) PRISM program.


So what is PRISM? It's a secret deal NSA had entered with the US based tech companies that NSA will have access to the user's personal information. While companies had denied their involvement in the PRISM program, but by now it has become an accepted fact that NSA is snooping into servers of Facebook, Yahoo!, Skype, Microsoft, AOL, Apple, Google and the likes.

A report in the Washington Post, clearly drives home the extent of the PRISM program. It said, "The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading US internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post. The program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. It may be the first of its kind. The NSA prides itself on stealing secrets and breaking codes, and it is accustomed to corporate partnerships that help it divert data traffic or sidestep barriers. But there has never been a Google or Facebook before, and it is unlikely that there are richer troves of valuable intelligence than the ones in Silicon Valley."

As we see through the haze of hurriedly made denial statements from all these companies , a GIZMODO report throws some insights on how this data snooping actually happens, writes Brian Barrett, " The companies mentioned receive a directive from the attorney general and the director of national intelligence. They hand over access to their servers-and the tremendous wealth of data and communiques that passes through them every day-to the FBI's Data Intercept Technology Unit, which in turn relays it to the NSA.


So all those on cyber space shouting that PRISM infringes on civil/cyber liberties need to look at digital surveillance from an historical perspective-ever since US war on terror which started after 9/11, many changes had happened. And US became more insular from a security perspective and created a rigid homeland security. And this security backbone that runs on key intelligence depends on programs like PRISM. Moreover PRISM is legal. There are laws that legalize government digital surveillance in the US. For instance the Protect America Act of 2007 that says specific targets can be electronically monitored without a warrant. This act was followed by 2008 FISA Amendments Act, which gives immunity to companies' of legal implications for giving information over to the government. Armed with these two powerful acts the US government has all the provisions to continue PRISM and snoop into thousand of servers globally.