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August 7, 2013

It’s No Longer OK to Not Know How the Internet Works

Networking ImageLast year, as the debates over SOPA and PIPA raged, Joshua Kopstein at Motherboard wrote a post entitled “Dear Congress, It’s No Longer OK to Not KNow How the Internet Works“. In the post, he blasted Congress for joking about how little they understood about the Internet while, at the same time, attempting to legislate it.

A year later, it’s time to revisit that message, but in a different context.

With the recent NSA scandals, the attack on Tor network (widely suspected to be orchestrated by the U.S. government), and deep concerns about how government and private entities are cooperating to share user data, it’s clear isn’t just the government that needs a primer on how the Internet works.

The everyday user that does as well.

For most people, including many who grew up with the Internet, the Web seems almost magical. They click to visit a site or send an email and they get content or data from half a world away, nearly instantly.

But where most people take the time to understand at least the basics of how their car works, far fewer have taken the time to understand how the Internet works, even as they depend upon it more and more as part of their daily lives.

But like not knowing how a car works, ignorance can be dangerous and, also like a car, a little bit of understanding can go a long, long way. read more

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July 31, 2013

Magic Lantern: The Hidden Truth

Magic Lantern

The Federal Bureau of Investigation or the FBI, as they are more commonly known, is notorious for their covert surveillance activities which have frequently caused public outcries. The Bureau’s history with Magic Lantern is one such example. Soon after the arrest of crime boss Nicodemo S. Scarfo in 1999, the agency, which was previously thought to have the best interest of citizens at heart, began development of Magic Lantern when it realized it needed a more comprehensive monitoring solution to aid in their investigations of harassment, extortion and identity theft. read more

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July 12, 2013

PRISM , Big Data and the Future of Privacy

Spy Image

It’s been just over a month since The Guardian broke the story about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) massive data collection program known as PRISM. The fervor has not died down and additional revelations about how the program works and similar systems existing in other countries have only stoked the flames

That anger has culminated in both “Restore the Fourth” rallies across the U.S., outrange online and a great deal of mockery as people turn to humor to best express their feelings. The nation, and indeed the world, has also turned its attention to the flight of Edward Snowden, the NSA contractor who originally leaked information about the program to the media.

But in the midst of the anger, lawsuits and questions, a larger conversation is taking place, one that revolves around privacy online, how much information we put out about ourselves on the Web and who has access to it.

That is because, while the Internet has certainly made our lives more convenient, it has also made them more trackable. In our bid to communicate better and easier, we put out so much information about ourselves, both intentionally and unintentionally, that the discovery of the NSA’s program may be as much a moment of reevaluation of our own practices as well as our government.

After all, for the government to collect the information it does, someone else has to have it first and the government is not the only entity with a vested interest in tracking you and monitoring your activities. read more

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