A week ago today, the world shook as The Washington Post and The Guardian revealed that the U.S. government was actually spying on everyone in the world.
First, it was the fact that Verizon and AT&T had allowed the NSA direct access to its network; then it was a bunch of Internet giants, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, Google, Apple, YouTube and AOL.
Soon after, companies started denying any involvement, giving the Government direct access to their servers or even knowing anything about PRISM and what it was meant to do.
At the same time, however, the government admitted to everything, which means that someone is lying. Either the Internet giants really were giving out access to the NSA or the NSA was collecting data without their knowledge. Which seems unlikely since it’s been going on for so many years.
The leaked document includes 41 slides, out of which only a handful have been released as the rest are considered to present a threat to national security. However, what’s been shown is already enough to get an accurate image on what PRISM is and what it does.
Some misleading documents have also been presented by Anonymous, who claimed that they have proof the NSA is spying on citizens of over 25 countries. However, these papers were actually old documents made publicly available on various U.S. government websites.
As days went by, more and more data resurfaced about the NSA spying program. Another slide from the leaked documents showed the fact that the NSA had two ways to collect data, one of which was directly taking information from the servers of these companies, which is exactly what they were vehemently denying.
For the fiasco to be complete, instead of showing some remorse for spying on the entire world, the chief of National Intelligence actually blamed the media for publishing the documents that have brought him so much trouble in the past few days.
The U.S. President took the stage and tried to downplay the size of the project by saying that it doesn’t even concern U.S citizens or those that live in the states. Just the rest of the world.
On the other hand, he said that the leak puts the country in danger and that it’s a matter of national security.
Then, this past weekend, it was revealed that Edward Snowden, an old NSA and CIA employee is behind the leak and that he’d done everything because a society that spies on everything you say isn’t one he wants to live in.
Furthermore, it looks like he’d been waiting to spread news about the NSA program since before Obama’s election in 2008. Since documents show that PRISM has been created in 2007, it means that he’d known about it almost from the start.
Snowden was already being hunted by the authorities since before he even revealed his name publicly. Politicians started calling him a traitor, while Twitterverse called him a hero since he’d let everyone know what was happening and nothing was safe from the NSA. Not your phone calls, not your emails or messages.
Even the author of the Patriot Act, that was the act that lead to the creation of PRISM, said that the project is an abuse to what it represents.
Of course, PRISM was rapidly turned into a political weapon. By the time the week had reached its half point, Obama and the NSA had already been sued, while another senator plans to gather 10 million U.S. citizens to start a class action lawsuit.
Now, the authorities are looking for a scapegoat. If they can’t find Snowden, then the reporters who published the story must be held responsible since it was classified information; or at least that’s what a U.S. Representative believes.
The NSA director has already been called in front of the Congress for hiding such information from them. He justified spying on billions of people by saying that PRISM has been quite helpful over the years, managing to stop dozens of terrorist attacks.
Put in the spotlight, some of the companies involved have asked permission to reveal when the Government asks for them to reveal secret spy requests in their transparency reports. However, until the law is changed, they can’t say much on the subject.
Citizens are trying to get revenge on the NSA and so “Operation Troll the NSA” was born. Basically, everyone who wanted to be part of the movement had to send out the same message at the same time, a text that included many misleading words that could be on the NSA’s watch list, such as “bomb,” “blow up” and “overthrow.”
Others have taken matters into their own hands. Some hackers have disrupted the official NSA website, which was inaccessible for over 13 hours, while another group has leaked a list of email addresses of over 400 NSA employees.
After this week, one thing is clear – the scandal is nowhere near its ending point and it will continue for many weeks. The number of people affected is way too high for the subject to be buried anytime soon.