Here’s something you probably didn’t know about government spying. Spying is far from a new phenomenon but with the revelations carried out by Edward Snowden, the process has simply sped up and in new dimensions. Since 2005, reports published by Electronic Frontier Foundation disclose that National Security Agency (NSA) has been intercepting communication ways including people’s phone calls and internet traffic.
NSA believes that once it has access to the daily traffic of internet usage, it can filter out possible threats on a large scale. NSA also believes in not violating personal identification of users of internet by specifically eradicating the social evils from the society.
The example of AT&T’s network in order to help government is just an example. Although companies like Google and Microsoft claim that everything that goes on internet is well-encrypted and remains the private property of users, it is an established fact that these big companies have given an access to government, similar to that of AT&T. This includes domestic as well as international internet traffic.
Brief Review Of Timeline Of 2014’s NSA Spy Network
On January 3, 2014, FISA Court renewed orders that aimed at collecting the phone call records of all Americans. On January 27, 2014 the NSA actually carried out an undercover work to obtain information on ‘leaky’ mobile apps. This was done only to get hold of anonymity in apps. The same day, GCHQ tapped the private data of users in order to get hold of traffic sent over the YouTube.
Over February 2014, several events such as the Optic Nerve Program, continuous hearings on civil liberties, tracking and spying took place. It was not until March 18 2014 that the Guardian reported that the Deputy inspector at the Pentagon was totally unaware of the bulk data records of phone calls which were obtained by the NSA. Side by side, NSA approved of an extensive program that aims at malware infection programs.
Should We Worry About Our Safety Online
Looks like after an active involvement of NSA over Internet traffic will not meet an end. Technical team at the NSA has met considerable criticism from analysts and companies such as The Forrester Research. The Forrester Research, an independent market research company, forecast that US Internet services including Amazon and Dropbox will make losses worth billions of US dollars. The losses will be triggered by the lack of trust and large scale consumer suspicion over the encryption process of these companies.
But should we really worry that somebody is ‘watching’ our personal information online? It is important to know that the Internet is a public place which has dimensions wider than social media networks and emails. The Internet cannot curb the democracy of the public. If users post something online, do they really worry about the freedom of opinion? Or do they worry that their voice will be heard to a billion people? Interestingly the answer is a ‘no’ for common public and ‘yes’ for criminals.
What Do Criminals And Businesses Do
Since we cannot eliminate the human nature from this pressing issue, we should be aware of the behavior of the criminals. They aim at infecting others’ hard drives which would then help them take out data. Computer networks shared or not, are not at all safe from intruders. So whose job is it to protect the people? Do private businesses such as Facebook or Google care about what is being posted via the internet? Do these businesses think outside the money making machinery? Will these companies ever ‘stop’ something illegal, unethical or illicit from ‘going online’? Certainly no because it is not their job to catch criminals, locate bomb threats and mitigate rape assaults.
With the burgeoning increase in cybercrime, countries like China and Russia are taking steps at national level to protect their people. We need to rethink if anonymity really exists in our lives. We need to understand that business such as Facebook and NSA are two very different powers. The data that has been collected by a marketing organization is very different from the data that NSA collects. The difference lies both in the structure and purpose. With disappointing views coming from people like Larry Page (Google’s Chief executive) that government secretly spied on its Internet traffic, it is important for the public not to be misled. We need to have a faith in government and its activities as it provides social ‘goods’ to the society at large. Advocates of privacy should not mislead others by making government a really nasty piece of monarch.
Now it is important not to over react to the disclosures by NSA over security surveillance. It was in 2007 that the program called PRISM began to function. PRISM was able to get a huge number of companies including Apple, YouTube, Yahoo and Microsoft on board. The purpose has been the surveillance of electronic data solely. So, this is not a new thing. We must know that government spying into our internet content is not ‘crossing the line’; it is for our own safety.
Over the years, celebrating the diversity of ideas has become an important norm of the digital world. Businesses all over the world are relying on the smooth functioning of the Internet. These endeavors are questioning the repercussions of these actions. Their concern over the new policies regarding governance of the Internet seems justified seeing that their livelihood is dependent on it.
Communist nations have always imposed authoritative control over its people. What we have learned from recent events in Turkey and Egypt is that Internet censorship does not work well for either party. Whether it is the government that is imposing the ban, or the people who are protesting it; both parties involved are fighting a war that nobody is going to win.
It has been confirmed in light of recent events where China has tightened its rules on Internet usage, that a country exerting such influence on its people cannot be responsible on a global level. For years the country has give us plenty of reasons not to trust it with something as integral as the Internet.
“It’s a question of control – and the Chinese authorities like to keep close control of web content, preferring to work with local internet content providers, on whom they can rely for self-censorship of content,” says Duncan Clark, the chairman of BDA China, as reported by BBC news.
We can only imagine what the world would become if China or Russia took over the digital world. Let us look at some changes that may occur and how they would affect us:
Primarily, everyone should fully identify themselves before they can use the Internet. This helps the government keep track of who is logging in and why. This would also make it harder to use the Internet for everybody. However the biggest problem here is that by handing over control to China we would be back to where we started from. Think about how furious everyone was when they found out the NSA was spying on them. China would do the same, only it would do it by implementing stricter policies and Internet censorship.
Well it is safe to say the future of our beloved social networking system would be uncertain under China’s leadership. Social media sites are a dangerous place for any government that has a secret worth their salt and China has many. Nevertheless, ridiculous bans would be imposed leading to a boost in download of VPN apps. The lists of sites that are banned in China are endless. These include Facebook, Twitter, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.
The Great Firewall
Internet censorship is carried out for many reasons. One of them is for restricting the country from accessing controversial sites. The other reason is to monitor Internet traffic and regulate data. If you think what the NSA did was bad, you wouldn’t like what’s coming next.
It is a sad truth that the ‘global Internet community’ is a group of people who want the world thinking the way they do, controlling not only Internet traffic but also the minds of those who use it. The handing over of control to these governments would definitely undo the freedom that people took years to obtain. No inheritor of the internet would ever be able to handle this amount of traffic in the same way.
It has also been warned that without any supervision from a universal authority, the Russian and Chinese Presidents could pressure ICANN to close up any sites that may host dangerous content. Many are of the opinion that these countries will stop at nothing to get what they want, and they’ll do whatever it takes to constrain the USA; however, popular opinion is that if the USA does have to do so then it would be wise to leave a backdoor to re-assume control if the need arises. There are certain lines that the state should not cross and the countries that are looking to seize the internet know very little about them.