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Published: Sunday 11 August, 2013

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How NSA Prism affects you, and how to protect yourself from being spied onBy Sebastian Anthony on June 10, 2013 at 10:06 amUnless you have been living under a rock, you will have heard the news that the US government is apparently spying on almost every digital bit that passes through the nation optical fiber highways or is stored in data centers inside its borders. As we have discussed at some length, though, it isn entirely clear just how much o cheap designer purses f the data leaked by exCIA analyst Edward Snowden, the Guardian, or the Washington Post is true. With the newspapers refusing to release the full 41slide Prism presentation, and companies such as Google swearing blind that the US government doesn have direct access to its servers, the situation is certainly a lot more complex than government has full, unfettered access to the servers and data centers of the USA largest internet companies. there smoke, though, there fire. While we can be certain of the extent of the US government spying on domestic and international citizens, it would be hopelessly naive to believe that no snooping occurs at all. For at least a decade, the telecoms and cryptography communities have presumed that the US internet and telephony backbones are being wiretapped by the US government. For many experts, Snowden leak of the Prism program did not come as a surprise. In fact, for some of the most cynical experts, the Prism leak actually came as a bit of a relief it could been a lot worse, you see. Again, while we can be sure of the exact extent of the program without seeing the unreleased slides, it would appear that Prism gives the US government access to just about any data you might have residing on servers based in US data centers. This might sound scary, but ask yourself this: Has anything happened in the past six years that has made you think I feel so oppressed by the US government data collection measures far as the NSA and FBI are concerned, Prism, the Verizon wiretap 2, and probab cheap designer purses ly hundreds of other sources of data, all serve just one purpose: Bolstering the security of the United States of America. The US intelligence community doesn actually care if you searching for porn, or how to grow your own weed; but it does care if you start searching for bomb recipes, and then posting photos of My First Nail Bomb on Facebook.

It also important to remember the difference between data logging and data mining. Yes, there a possibility that the US government is logging a lot of your data, but in the vast majority of cases that it your data is logged, and then after a certain amount of time it deleted. If it turns out that you a terrorist, or some other threat to national security, all of your logged data suddenly becomes very valuable indeed all of those innocuous phone calls and cryptic status updates could be used to track down you and your coconspirators. It no good if the US government only starts logging data after a terrorist commits an atrocity.

Next page:A case for privacy, and how to protect yourself from Prism 3

A case for privacyWith that said, there are still lots of people that really detest the idea of Uncle Sam constantly looking over your shoulder with a dictaphone and video camera. Whenever any government this doesn just happen in the US! gets caught with its hand in the privacy jar, we always given two platitudes: If you haven done anything wrong, you have nothing to hide; and, Trust us, we the government, we have your best interests at heart.

The nothingtohide argument is, at best, a pathetically naive defense that owes most of its efficacy to our fear of extremism. Basically, the government is saying that only criminals want to hide data about themselves. Just by paraphrasing the nothingtohide argument, you begin to see the stupidity of this argument. We all have things we want to hide, from our loved ones, from our friends, from our communities, and from our government. If you went up to Barack Obama, or some other senior figure, and asked to see his personal email or credit card bill, what do you think their response would be? Without turning this into a conversation about privacy, which is a very complex topic indeed, suffice it to say that the nothingtohide argument is underpinned by a very, very narrow understanding of privacy. Think about this: What happens if a hacker breaks into the government database?

4Another secret program, Boundless Informant, tracks massive amounts of data gathered by US intelligence services. This heatmap shows it gathering over 3 billion pieces of data from the US in just one month.

How to protect yourself from Prism, and other wiretapsIf you want to stay out of the ireful, omnipresent eye of the US and other governments, Prism, and the extensive wiretaps that undoubtedly exist throughout the world internet and telephony networks, here are a few tips.

Stop using social networks. If it turns out that the US government has direct access to Facebook, Microsoft, and Google servers, you really should stop using their services. If you use Chrome or Firefox, you should install the EFF HTTPS Everywhere addon 5. HTTPS is an encrypted form of HTTP, the protocol that your browser uses to fetch web pages from remote servers. If you want to make phone calls that can be tracked back to you, our sister site PC Magazine has compiled a big list of encrypted and burner phone services 7. The only real solution is to get your government to stop snooping on you in the first place, but the chances of that happening are close to nil. Really, we just have to pray that the government doesn use its powers for evil and that it doesn mess up and allow hackers into its massive databases. cheap designer purses