Thursday, June 06, 2013

FBI-NSA "PRISM" system snoops on ordinary Internet communications (on top of Verizon snoop); the multiple facets of "see something, say somethikng"

In addition to revelations today about the court-supervised collection of cellphone call data from Verizon and probably other telecommunications companies, the Washington Post, UK Guardian, and various broadcast companies have reported today that the government has a system called PROSM, to track American Internet activities both at home and overseas.  (The Verizon matter was covered earlier today on my "Network Neutrality" blog.) 

ABC affiliate WJLA in Arlington VA has a pretty typical story here

There were questions in Congress as to whether information about ordinary Americans could turn up “wittingly.”  The general answer was, possibly but not likely—the “highly unlikely” phrase of my own father.
PRISM came about after 9/11 and the Patriot Act as a result of a need for more information sharing.
The government claims that PRISM has helped stop one or more domestic terrorist attacks.

The government seems particularly concerned about connections between or among parties, as it is with cell phone tracking.  Communications offshore or overseas probably attract more attention.

But some content sniffing of social media, blogs, and various personal sites might be possible, particularly ones that deal with details as to how certain attacks could be carried out.

There could be some justification for this activity in that some persons may have received enigmatic emails warning about 9/11 during Labor Day weekend in 2001, and thought they were sent by a computer worm and were not opened or ignored. 

The significance for Internet safety could be that determined terrorists or criminals might be conducting similar kinds of surveillance.   Some virus and worm activity or spam attacks could give clues as to real terrorist threats. 

It’s not a bad idea to follow your own antivirus and computer security provider on Twitter to keep up with this.    

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