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US Monitoring Communication Over Internet? Why Such a Big Hullabaloo?

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Last couple of days, offline as well as online media in India has been writing about US Government security agencies (NSA) monitoring Internet Communication channels like emails and messaging. I am personally quite surprised at this…

Did everyone think that US Government (and any other Governments, mind you) is not monitoring the communication happening on internet at large as part of their security surveillance (Guess you guys need to see more Hollywood Movies and US TV serials!)?

There is a caveat here though – I am assuming that none of the 9 internet companies named in the report (Google, AOL, Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft, Skype, Facebook, YouTube and PalTalk) have given them “backdoor” access.

And if some of companies them have given NSA the backdoor access, it is not US Govt. or NSA to be blamed, it HAS to be the company who is offering that backdoor. But, I do not wish to go into that debate, as I think that is not the case here.

Infact, Google’s CEO Larry Page immediately announced on their official blog that they have not provided any such access, or for that matter he had not even heard about PRISM until the report came out. Same seems to be the case with other companies, where they have categorically denied providing any special access.

So, coming back to my point – Internet is open, when someone puts any content, image, information or files out there, they have potential to be intercepted and seen, unless you take serious precautions.

Mind you, NSA is not looking for your credit cards or hacking your passwords. They cannot do that neither are they interested. They are collecting information from National Security point of view.

[box type=”shadow” ]What NSA is doing is exactly like any brand gathering intelligence from the web on what has been spoken about them either negative or positive, so that they can take certain preventive measures in cases where it could blow up. While for brands, it may be limited to Social Media and Open Web, NSA with its muscle power can go deeper to find bits of intelligence they need. You need to understand that.[/box]

Also, do you think Indian or other countries’ security agencies are not doing it? I doubt! May be not at a scale of PRSIM, but they are still doing it!

What I want to say is simple – Internet does not have geographical boundaries, it is not owned by a particular government. It is OPEN WEB. If you put something out there, you are responsible for it. If your message is read by someone not intended for them, it is you and your messaging/email service is to be blamed. Do not blame NSA or a Spy Agency or Government because they are able to get access to it.

I am especially surprised by people who on one hand want no restrictions to be put on the web and want to make it as open as possible. On the other hand, they want to put restrictions on people accessing the information available.

[box type=”shadow” ]Now, I want to repeat this – My article is based on the fact that I believe none of the internet companies offer “backdoor access” to agencies like NSA. And even if it is true, you need be worried more about that company rather than any Government or security agency.[/box]

Would love to hear thoughts on this.

  1. es says

    The whistleblowing will not stop NSA from its activities, so if certain individuals find the work unethical, they should have the freedom to speak about it or say no. We are in no position to judge how NSA interprets all the information it gets and what its repercussions are, but it is a known fact that terrorists are still able to succeed and innocents are still apprehended. I think public outcry would, if nothing else, enable a sanity check and help in formulation of some guidelines over what the data may or may not be used for.

  2. Shankar says

    I don’t think anyone need to worry unless they are a terrorist or a criminal. But I think it’s unfair that only American government is getting backdoor access to know about people all over the world and not any other government.

  3. Suneel says

    In the year 2000, I had read about NSA screening the emails in a small time computer magazine that comes every month in Andhra Pradesh. But, strangely people are shouting about this now. I had no problems with that because it’s not like a person sits and reads every personal email being sent.

    It’s several intelligent programs which use cloud computing to scan the emails for specific set of keywords denoting any kind of suspicious activity. Each and every word on the web goes thru a set of procedures to make itself available online, so I do not understand what the fuss is all about until and unless you did something wrong and are ignorant enough to send it thru online comm. channels. Period.

    In today’s world, Everything is to be accounted for.

    1. Arun Prabhudesai says

      Yes Sunil – I fully agree.. and my another and most important point is…Why are you accusing NSA or the security agency who is spying? WHy not the messaging/email service provider. They are the ones who are responsible for letting access to content (due to weak security or any other reason).

      And like you said, a person who thinks it was not happening, should not be on the internet in the first place. He should go and live in a cave…

      1. Suneel says

        Arun, if you consider the gigantic websites like FB and Google, there is no single entity which can put a leash on them, except for government agencies. The corporates too knew this simple fact, so they WILL comply to the rules that are created by govt. agencies, when they come with words like “national security”, “protecting the rights of the innocent citizens” and henceforth.

        And coming to service providers, they don’t care about the people using their services. End users matter only in a startup stage. Later on, we become lab rats on which social media and advertising campaigns are run on.

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