The Guardian says the N.S.A. went for more than just phone records.
The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called PRISM, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.
The Guardian has verified the authenticity of the document, a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation – classified as top secret with no distribution to foreign allies – which was apparently used to train intelligence operatives on the capabilities of the program. The document claims “collection directly from the servers” of major US service providers.
Although the presentation claims the program is run with the assistance of the companies, all those who responded to a Guardian request for comment on Thursday denied knowledge of any such program.
As I noted on Twitter last night, I look on the bright side: now I know my readership is actually higher than StatCounter says it is.
I understand that a lot of people are upset by this news. I refuse to be one of them. It’s not that it doesn’t concern me that there is an agency out there that is gathering information and that there is every possibility that they’re doing it at this very moment. But anyone who thinks that it hasn’t been going on for a very long time in a very systematic method and that it doesn’t matter whether there’s a Republican or a Democrat in the White House needs to take a cold shower of reality.
It’s not that the folks in the tin-foil hats are right and the secret government agents are out there to spy on each one of us individually and that they’re up to no good. Anyone who’s ever worked in any sort of bureaucracy, be it a government entity or your local Wal-Mart, knows that they gather information. That’s life. It’s a part of the bargain we make in living in what we hope is a free society that is also protecting us from those who want to harm us.
So unless you plan to live completely off the grid and don’t plan on buying anything, making a phone call, or Googling yourself, then you can expect this kind of news. As a lot of the people who knew about it said, it’s old news: a lot of other people know what you’re doing with your car, your computer, your TV, and your grocery list. But not your guns.