Monday, 17 June 2013

PRISM splits the Red from the Blue

It has recently been reported that the NSA has a classified electronic surveillance system called PRISM, that has been systematically and wholesale vacuuming up information on Internet users.  The vast majority of the data comes from Yahoo, Google and Microsoft.

I'm shocked, stunned, and more than a little amazed.

Not that they are doing it of course, as Blind Freddy could see that it was going to happen.  I'm shocked, stunned, and more than a little amazed at the people who are surprised by this, and are suffering a fit of moral indignation.

We live in a world of pervasive electronic surveillance.  From satellites mapping the globe, to Google cars collecting photographs and WiFi traffic, to CCTV cameras in every major city with active face recognition, to the supermarket loyalty card you use for a discount, to your friends and family posting your every move on Facebook, and finally to governments snooping on the Internet.  We can have heated discussions about whether this should be, and what it means, but the horse has well and truly bolted.

This is not new.  This is not unexpected.  This is not a surprise.  Mostly we did it to ourselves.  The real question is what are we going to do going forward, and this is something we do have a choice about.

The providers that are reported to be the major source of information are the free e-mail services, the ones that already data-mine your e-mail to serve you targeted adverts.  As you didn't pay for the service you are not their clients, you are their product - they sell your eyeballs.

If you want to take back control, choose to use a different provider.  If you want to make it harder to be snooped on, choose to always use encryption.  It might be impractical to go completely off the net, but you can choose to not make it easy.  Or you can choose to keep the benefits you have at the cost of your privacy.

Security is your choice.

Phil Kernick Chief Technology Officer