A few weeks ago, netizens around the world were shocked by the revelations made by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The former spy had made people aware about theSec National security Agency’s (NSA) massive PRISM digital surveillance programme and went on to state that the US government routinely sifts through the average citizen’s e-mails, digital photos and other online files in search of possible ties to terrorism.
The revelation resulted in massive outrage and raised major issues in terms of privacy.“Edward Snowden is not a traitor. He is not a spy. He is a whistleblower who has told the public an important truth,” said Julian Assange, founder, WikiLeaks, at a press conference. Several countries, including India and many European nations, have expressed their concern over the online data of their citizens being shared with the US government. Immediately after, online giants, like Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft and Facebook, came under fire to release figures on how much data they have shared. While some immediately came out with figures, details from others are awaited.But US President Barack Obama has gone on record to state that the move was necessary. Recently in Berlin, Germany, when told that European citizens were concerned about their data being shared, he defended the policy, stating, “This is not a situation where we are rifling through, you know, the ordinary emails of German citizens or American citizens or French citizens or anyone else. We know of at least 50 threats that have been averted — not just in the United States, but in countries around the world, including Germany.
Story so far..
The US operates a secret NSA surveillance programme code-named PRISM. Apart from tracking phone calls within the country, it also taps directly into the servers of nine leading Internet companies: Microsoft, Skype, Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo!, PalTalk, AOL and Apple. Citizens around the world, including Indians, have been impacted by this programme with the agency having direct access to their customer data. Former US spy-turned-agency contractor Edward Snowden exposed the extent of the surveillance and raised questions about Washington’s intrusion into private lives. He is now believed to be in Moscow.
Right to information?
Last week, Google filed a court petition demanding it be allowed to share information about government surveillance programs with the public. The search giant argued that the company has a constitutional right to share information it is forced to give the government about its users.