By Aman Sardana
The ease of connectivity and trafficking data have made the internet a boon but there are things one must be aware of while on it. The confidence with which we share credentials online has grown to an extent where we don’t stop to consider of its security. Many are unaware of the existence of organisations that have the ability to scan and manage data irrespective of it being confidential.
The internet era was reaching its prime during the late 20th century and the data that travelled as packets were in enormous numbers. The NSA (National Security Agency) soon realised the potential of this and kept their eyes open to any information shared in any form of data on the web. They became spies who had to grab any information available about these terrorists and their activities. In the process, the data which was uploaded by anyone would be under surveillance and phone calls would be tapped to hear conversations. In the name of finding potential threats, the data of every individual with a cyber-footprint was collected and verified. The activities of the NSA were never known to anyone in the outside world but that changed in the year 2013. Edward Snowden aged 30 was branded a “traitor” by the United States government and charged as a spy.
Edward Snowden is the man who exposed the NSA and its dealings with the United States Government. In May of 2013, Snowden was working with Booz Allen Hamilton, a defence firm contracted by the NSA in Hawaii. He flew to Hong Kong with information regarding the mass surveillance program run by the US government. He got in touch with ”The Guardian” a UK based newspaper company and proceeded to leak confidential data about the NSA and its surveillance program. He spoke of PRISM which was a software the NSA used to carry out their activities as a spy.
The most of this is just how the US government used the NSA as a spy online to help protect their nation but how does this affect a consumer. Can we not trust the government with our credentials? Well this is where the most shocking part comes in. Snowden revealed to the world that companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Microsoft were also involved in the NSA program as they would provide the NSA with all of our details. It is a complete murder of privacy online, the NSA has the power to read every conversation that is made on the internet without any form of restriction or a projected jurisdiction. Data from all over the world is available to them readily. They know everything about your cyber image, who you talk to and anything else that people would know about you online. According to a confidential NSA slideshow, Microsoft had begun providing information collected through their operating system and servers to the NSA back in 2007 under the earlier mentioned PRISM program.
This is a difficult question to answer but cyber system security is now a massive topic of discussion. It is uncertain what will be done to help citizens keep their privacy on the web. It is always an uncomfortable feeling knowing that there is someone, somewhere who you have never seen and don’t know exists able to scan through all your data and know everything about you. This is a feeling you are probably facing right now upon reading this article. But there is still hope. With the population being this concerned about its privacy, the rules regarding cyber surveillance can be altered in order to keep both the government and its citizens happy. Though the NSA and the LIMs in India are doing what they are to protect its citizens, there might be better ways to deal with surveillance online. At this point we are still clueless and uncertain as to what these leaks and this information means but very soon there must be a fix in the system that will result in a win-win situation. The internet has grown beyond imagination but so have flaws that come with it.