Tuesday 11 June 2013

Looking Cloudy: PRISM Reading

As things move along PRISM is making great waves throughout our industry.

Susan Bradley linked through to another awesome article on PRISM penned by Erica Absetz (eabsetz).

Erica does an excellent job of summarizing some critical aspects of PRISM with some valuable questions about how the program actually works.

Her article also contains a number of links to further articles discussing the PRISM program.

From her article:

Both Facebook and Google denied any previous knowledge of the PRISM surveillance program after concerns they may have been part of the program. Many other technology companies thought be be part of PRISM issued similar statements saying that they did not allow the government “direct access” to their systems. However, the NY Times reports that Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, and Paltalk all negotiated with the government and were required to share information due to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The Guardian also states that Microsoft has been a part of this information sharing program since the beginning in December of 2007 and was joined by Yahoo in 2008, Google, Facebook and PalTalk in 2009, YouTube in 2010, Skype and AOL in 2011, and Apple in 2012. At this point, it is a game of "who do you trust?" The government who finds such data incredibly valuable, or the corporations that sometimes rely on such data for their business model (e.g. Facebook). [emphasis ours]

Indeed, who can we trust?

As far as we are concerned the two words “Internet” and “Privacy” do not belong anywhere near each other.

Our Rule of Thumb: Want something to be private? Never publish it a public network like the Internet or cell network in any way shape or form. No e-mail, no picture texting, no SkyDrive, and so on. None. Nadda. Zippo. Zilch.

We here have been of the opinion that there is no sacred data sanctuary anywhere on the Internet.

Remember this?

    • Former AT&T technician Mark Klein is the key witness in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's class-action lawsuit against the telecommunications company, which alleges that AT&T cooperated in an illegal National Security Agency domestic surveillance program.

So, while PRISM is bringing to light the fact that government agencies are spying on the general population today, we seem to have very limited memories since the timelines on the above article go back to 2004!

Like any news, it is up to us to keep that squeaky wheel consistently squeaky to the _general population_ or like any other news item, and perhaps hoped for by the corporations and powers-that-be, PRISM and its implications will slowly wink out of our mind’s eye until the next “big story” breaks.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen
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