Questions continue to be raised after PRISM program revealed
Concerns over American civil liberties increased this week after the Obama administration admitted to reviewing millions of phone records from Verizon Wireless customers. However, a separate development has exacerbated those worries, as The Guardian reported that a secret National Security Agency program has been accessing user data from Google, Facebook, Apple and several other American web-based enterprises.
PRISM – the name given to the top secret program – is so highly classified that foreign allies were not notified of its existence, according to the source. Despite alleging that the program was run with the full cooperation of the companies involved, The Guardian reported that the affected enterprises stated that they were unaware that the government was accessing their information.
The program has been in operation since 2007, started by formed President Bush and recently renewed by President Obama, showing that the erosion of civil liberties is a bipartisan effort.
The conundrum for Americans on this issue is who and what to believe. Are the likes of Google and Apple voluntarily handing over personal information or have they been unknowingly – and potentially illegally – accessed by the government?
Any statement from government officials and corporate executives regarding the issue has to be taken with a grain of salt. Although James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence stated that the program only targeted foreigners, according to the Chicago Tribune, there's little credibility in his words. Even with it being such a privacy concern, one could be forgiven for laughing a little at the fact that officials expect citizens to believe the information they are feeding the country about a program they so readily kept under wraps for seven years.
It's a true Big Brother situation that Americans find themselves in and no matter what officials says, it won't change the fact that the U.S. government has indeed infringed on its citizens' civil rights.