NSA and You

By now, you have probably heard about Edward Snowden. If not, he was a contractor that worked for the NSA who recently leaked documents showing that the US government was monitoring everything that its citizens were doing on the Internet. This blew up on the web and dominated the news channels for many weeks as Snowden traveled the world seeking asylum. However, little attention has been placed on the repercussions of what this information means to us.

So now that you are aware that our government knows (or at least has the ability to know) what you are doing on the Internet, let’s take a look at the reality of things. Realize that there are hundreds of millions of people that use the Internet everyday in the US, and every one of those users and their Internet metadata are stored in databases. The chances of someone actually browsing through your metadata, however, is extremely rare. You may have heard about the tool that the NSA uses to gather metadata about people, XKeyscore. This was the specific program that Snowden had uncovered. Supposedly, the purpose behind this program is to track foreign nationals around the world (aka terrorists). In order for this program to be successful, other country’s shared their network of data. Countries like Australia, The UK, and Germany have all shared information with the US.

The fact that everything you do on the Internet is recorded shouldn’t come as a surprise. You may look at all of this and see it as your government protecting you. You could also see it as an intrusion into your privacy. One could argue that there is potential for the government to use this information against its citizens. The fact is, in order for the US to do that, it would need to do it very quietly and slowly. For example, the US government can’t just go out and throw all of one political party in jail because that would cause a political uproar.

If you are still worried about the government tracking you, try out Tor. It is a program that anonymizes your Internet activity by redirecting your traffic through other countries and disguising it as if your data is originating from another country. However, the government has had, has, and will have access to your information; get use to that. If you have nothing to hide, then you shouldn’t be worried.

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