The National Security Agency (NSA), it was revealed yesterday, is collecting data from million of Verizon phone records. After that fact was revealed, many American citizens and privacy rights groups quickly attacked the agency for its data collection practices.
The word floated around the most has been "overstep" as the agency built to collect overseas data has quickly turned into a data collector of US citizen information.
While the NSA has many means for collecting data, one of its programs known as PRISM has come under fire for data mining information from Internet users. NSA's PRISM platform collects various forms of data including emails, file transfer records, voice and video chats, and more.
The NSA taps into the servers of Internet companies that include Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and more.
The Bush administration argued that data centers are just "facilities" that are capable of transferring data for international terrorists. The Obama administration was quick to continue the work started under the Bush White House.
The NSA PRISM platform is made up of almost every major internet service in existence, but until now it has never been fully revealed to American citizens. It should be noted that many major US tech companies have come out to deny their involvement in the PRISM program.
PRISM is used MOSTLY for monitoring international conversations; however, that surveillance quickly turns to the US when overseas communications reach US servers.
Here is the PRISM workflow for international and domestic citizen spying:
How valuable is this information to the NSA? In a public statement yesterday, the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told reporters:
"Information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable foreign intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats. The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans."
So there you have it: The NSA is officially angry that their spying has been revealed. What does this mean for everyday Americans? Probably that the NSA will attempt to find even more covert ways to spy on American citizens from within our own borders.
Do you think NSA PRISM is overstepping its bounds?
(Image via WaPo)