As the internet and social media have evolved, so has the etiquette that we should follow when using them. We have been taught not to post or send anything that we would not want to get out, for the sake of being professional online. However, we were not told to be careful of what we share in the event that the government would see it.
Over the weekend, news broke that the National Security Agency and the FBI have been accessing information from the servers of nine top U.S. internet companies through a program code-named PRISM. The purpose of this program is to track foreign targets. So far information has been gathered from Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple; basically, every website that is used by millions of people on a daily basis. It has been reported that the NSA and FBI can request email, chat (both voice and video), video, photos, file transfers, and more.
The most interesting thing about this revelation is that it is completely legal thanks to two pieces of legislation passed during the Bush Administration. The first, The Protect America Act of 2007 which allowed suspects to be monitored online without a warrant if they are “reasonably believed” to be foreign. The second, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 which grants immunity to the internet companies that provide the information. Because of this, most, if not all, government statements thus far have been unapologetic and in support of continuing this program to ensure the safety of this country.
Just yesterday, the PRISM whistleblower, Edward Snowden, decided to come forward. Why? He explains that when going up against such powerful agencies, you go in knowing that, “If they want you, they will get you in due time.” Snowden says that trying to keep your identity a secret does not prolong any consequences. He chose to blow the whistle on this project because he simply does not “want to live in a society that does these sort of things.”
This has sparked a huge debate among American citizens. Is PRISM an intrusion on our Constitutional rights or is it simply a new measure that our government has to take to keep our nation safe in this internet age?
Which side of the debate do you fall on? We want to know!