June 11 2013
Can You Hear Me Now?
Vicki E. Alger
Last week the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court ordered Verizon to hand over phone records to the National Security Agency “on an ongoing daily basis” and not disclose the court order to anyone. So how do we know about this order that wasn’t supposed to be de-classified until April 2038? London’s The Guardian newspaper printed it.
Just because you’re not a Verizon subscriber, don’t think your privacy is intact.
Under a program codenamed PRISM starting six years ago the government has granted itself the authority to tap into nine leading Internet companies, according to an investigation by the Washington Post. In a nutshell, through PRISM the NSA collects data “directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.”
The confidential documents obtained by the Post indicate that these companies are willing partners in data mining their customers’ information—all without a warrant. The information they provide also now accounts for one out of seven intelligence reports.
Helping security agencies identify terrorists is one thing—but that job does not require trampling upon the rights of American citizens. Edward Snowden, who provided the confidential documents, has fled the U.S. and plans to seek asylum in Iceland.
As the Post wondered, “Has the U.S. become the type of nation from which you have to seek asylum?” The answer is a resounding “No”—as long as we don’t use defense from foreign threats to justify threats to our liberties and lives here at home.