We all remember Will Smith‘s “Enemy of the State” blockbuster from 1998 and if it did seem to fit into into a science-fiction movie by that time, the truth is that we wouldn’t be surprised if a sequel ends up coming out categorized as a documentary in a near future.
Edward Snowden, a 29-year old former professional of the CIA, used to work for the United States‘ NSA (National Security Agency), as part of a consultancy job in a company called Booz Allen. He recently ran away to Hong Kong to hand out to the media several documents where he reveals proves that the NSA is accessing data and information from companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Skype and Apple, in a case called PRISM.
The identity of the author of this information leakage was revealed by The Guardian this past Sunday, after the author himself allowed for it to be made. “I have no intention of hiding, because I know I didn’t do anything wrong”, said Snowden, who was also quoted saying that he’s perfectly aware of the legal consequences of his acts.
Snowden: “I don’t want to turn into a popular person, especially because I don’t want this story to be about me, but rather about what the US Government has been doing. Above all, I don’t want to live in a society where these kind of things are allowed.”
The North-American started planning everything about 3 weeks ago and the fact that he had a quite relaxing life in Hawaii, where he earned a yearly 200.000 dollars salary, doesn’t seem to have been enough to make him change his mind about exposing one of the biggest US Government espionage cases in history.
Reportedly, both the NSA and the FBI have been accessing private data and information from 9 big technology companies, thanks to a program initiated back in 2007 during George Bush‘s presidential era and that has remained active with Barack Obama in the power. The full list of companies comprises: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, Youtube and Apple. The leaked documents were given to the newspapers “The Guardian” and “The Washington Post” and highlight that all those companies mentioned before continuously agree to provide their users’ private information from their own servers’ database. Naturally, the companies have rushed to issue several press releases denying any of those claims to be true as well as the inexistence of any kind of cooperation with the American Government on that matter.
In one of the leaked documents, a PowerPoint file appears to contain 41 slides with information that was being used to train professionals with espionage tasks. The PRISM program allowed the NSA to access content from millions of users’ emails, attached files and chats conversations. Any suspicious content with its source nature coming from audio, video or pictures is also easily subject of analysis according to the “Washington Post” report.
In times where “knowledge is power” became a quote that describes our modern era and where the big governments’ sneaky tactics to control everything everywhere at any given time seem to be more of a matter of national security, what can we honestly expect from some of the biggest companies in the World when it comes to protect the privacy of our data? Politics and lobbies will always lead to decisions where the most sacred ethical values won’t be preserved and knowing how profit oriented companies like Facebook or Google are in reality, just puts us in a position where we have to understand that by definition no single piece of information is safe anymore, as long as it’s online and hosted somewhere.