Since my little article about the snooping of US and UK intelligence agencies of internet users by the American Prism system, a list of firms who complied and assisted the governments has been released, or shall we say, leaked out!
The list includes all the most famous companies used by virtually everyone in the world who uses the web as a communication aid.
The firms are Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, Paltalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL and Apple.
Doesn’t leave much more to chance!
There has been a whole tornado of emails into my inbox about this since yesterday, in the main from readers supporting the idea that the web should free and independent. Of course, I go with that.
But on the other hand, there should be certain laws set up to protect ordinary citizens like you and me from unwanted snooping into our emails, etc.
Sure, if the intelligence agencies have an idea that some emails, photographs or other material emanating from somewhere is suspicious, then by all means that should be monitored, as a way of extricating useful information, before those people cause any harm.
To monitor absolutely everything everywhere, is a travesty of justice and logic.
And what makes the whole shebang a little sinister and Orwellian, is the blanket answers given by these firms when asked about the monitoring thing. Google said they do not have a back-door for any government to access user data. Apple said they have never heard of Prism. Even the Washington Post has retracted it’s story about Prism which it had printed before this whole thing blew up.
Yet the only way by which Prism could have accessed all the data would be if they were given master decryption codes or keys by these companies, which of course they all deny doing. That would go along with US law probably, but the companies would be under no obligation to announce or admit the facts.
What can be done about it? Well, in a nutshell, nothing much really. If a government wants to know what you are writing on the web, they have all the powers to do so. There are ways you can encrypt your emails, one of which is the PGP system (not easy to set up) or using a VPN (virtual private network) to “cloak” your identity, but even these can be overcome.
In the end, it all comes down to common sense. I don’t think the average Joe Public has anything to hide in his/her emails, photographs or writing that is posted daily on the web.
On the other hand, if you are up to no good, or are planning ways to harm people, innocent or otherwise, then I think all my readers will agree that the full might of any government should be brought upon such people, in the name of national security.