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How to Block Prism, Even if the Government Decides Not to Stop

July 30, 2013 | Joshua Parker

government spying

Unless you have been under a rock for the past few months you know about the classified program ran by the United States intelligence agencies named Prism. If you happen to have been out of the loop then let me sum it up for you: a whistle blower names Edward Snowden released information showing the government is collecting massive amounts of information on you that would not normally be public and would normally require a warrant. The release indicates that this information is collected from major companies that many of us deal with on a daily basis (Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple).

Many programs have developed that educate you on how you can "Opt Out" of Prism based programs, like the cleverly named Prism-Break. The only problem with Prism-Break/Opt Out systems is that they require a change to your daily routine. They list alternative or open-source applications to replace your existing applications that will allow you to break free of the companies associated to Prism. It is great to have this option, but many of us would prefer to continue using our current, familiar, premium, brand name, solutions. We just want to do so securely.

Our society is making outstanding technological advances and we have to look at how we can grow as we address Prism. As we look at growth we have to think about how we can learn from this event and what other scandals may be released in the future.

All of this begs the question, how safe is any of the data we transmit over the Internet? Even if we avoid using services connected with the Prism program, can the government, or anyone else, take advantage of all the unencrypted information that is making its way around the World Wide Web?

One group is trying to address this concern.

A small group of computer science students in Germany and one in California have developed what could be the start of framework that could help you encrypt everything you do. Not only are they encrypting your everyday communications but it even encrypts the information going to the companies that support Prism. They have started with a Facebook proof of concept and are working to make their way through all of your mechanism for everyday communication. They have created a Google Chrome browser plugin that allows your communication to be encrypted via a passphrase and decrypted by your recipient's passphrase. As they move forward they are focused on bringing this technology to smartphones, email and video conferencing. They currently have an indiegogo campaign with a goal to bring these innovations to the public. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg were all college students when they dropped out to start Microsoft, Apple and Facebook (all companies that supported Prism). Now these college students from Germany and California are working to create what could be the next big social innovation that takes down one of the intelligence agencies most controversial programs.  

When the government has sensitive material to pass over a network they use encryption to keep it private from outside eyes. Wouldn't you like to do the same? Even those who trust the government would be wise to seal their envelopes before dropping them in the mail.







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