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Perhaps while you’ve been outraged at the Xbox One’s newly revealed always-on and used games policies, you missed out on the news that the National Security Agency has been spying on everyone and everything since 2007. Surprise! Dubbed PRISM, the spy-on-everything program is a collaboration between the NSA, FBI, and just about every major tech company you love, hate, or love to hate.

The original program’s ambition was to monitor and collect data from foreign sources that might pass through United States networks for one reason or another — not the worst-sounding goal. However, as leaked reports regarding the program revealed, the agency had access to just about any service the consumer public would use in these modern times. The program has access to a wide array of information from Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype, AOL, and PalTalk (which is a video chat room service). The information includes everything you do on a daily basis, from sending emails and participating in chats, to monitoring stored videos and images, to your social networking information and basic electronic activity, such as a logging into and out of a network.




The NSA getting access to these companies’ servers isn’t entirely convoluted or complex. According to the reports, Apple, for example, will be hit with orders from the Director of National Intelligence which demands access to its servers. Apple will comply, and the data from the servers goes through the FBI, which then hands the culled information over to the NSA.

The only thing thing standing between the NSA and going through all of your information, is that an NSA agent has to be 51% sure you’re foreign.

If you’re a reasonably seasoned user of modern technology, then there’s likely always a little voice in the back of your head that reminds you not to do sketchy things online, because someone, somewhere can see what you did. We’re so used to hearing that, for example, Facebook has access to everything on our computer if it wants, or if you uploaded a photo online a decade ago and quickly removed it, someone can still find it. So, we just kind of shrug and not think about it, and assume that Facebook — or the NSA in this case — has better things to do than read the GChat conversations we’ve had with coworkers regarding who’s cute in the office.

If you don’t want to shrug and ignore PRISM, but also don’t want to have it suck up all of your time because you have better things to do than worry about a government program you likely can’t do much about, the Electronic Frontier Foundation made a very handy timeline just for you. The timeline doesn’t just cover PRISM, but is a timeline for domestic spying, dating as far back as 1791 when the Bill of Rights went into effect. The timeline quickly jumps to the time of the internet from there, because domestic spying — along with just about everything else — was made much easier with the advent of the internet.

The EFF’s timeline is well-organized, and does allow the option for you to miss an entire day of work reading up on the NSA if you choose to click all of the related links. If not, you can get caught up on domestic spying rather easily, and go back to posting both your sensitive and superfluous information on the internet for the government to see.

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