A Brief Overview of Edward Snowden and Online Privacy

A little over a year ago, Edward Snowden told the world that the United States government was paying websites to release private information. The government was paying big money to sources like Yahoo and Facebook in return for those sources giving them information about their users. The e-mail conversations, the web searches, the location and more of the user was exchanging hands. The National Security Administration claimed that they needed this information to keep our country safe. It has caused a worldwide debate on online privacy policies.

After Edward Snowden “blew the whistle” on the shakiness of our online security and how our privacy was being ignored, the National Security Administration began to pass laws quickly to strengthen cyber security. The first step taken by the NSA was to pass a law that all major information holding websites like Google and Yahoo must use a very strong encryption on their sites. Adding encryption to the website can be viewed as adding a password. It will keep the sites safe until someone discovers the password.

The Department of Defense has created a website for the public to view and inform themselves about cyber security and how to keep themselves safe. It is a huge priority for business owners to keep the information they collect from their clients private from the outside world. Our social security numbers and credit card numbers are collected by businesses that could be hacked at any moment. For example, when all of the information from customers at Target was obtained you can most likely thank some sort of hacker. Our government is trying to keep us safe from something like that happening again, or worse. It is truly an issue of national security when our Internet is not safe from our enemies, foreign or domestic.

However, the government is still trying to obtain private information. Cell phones are one of the biggest ways that our information has become at risk. It was released, not too long ago, that Verizon Wireless has been selling their users information to the government for a very long time. Again, conversations and locations of the users were not private. Now there are applications that have been designed for our cell phones that promise to be completely secure and the makers say that they will never release our private information stored on the app to the government. However, the government can receive a court order for the owners of that app to release the information that the government needs. The only problem with that is there is no way to release the specific information that the government wants for one specific user, the government has to be granted access to ALL of the information so they can find what they are looking for. Most of the time these companies will just “disappear” and delete their application instead of giving the government their way. Just a few weeks later you will tend to find the same app with a different name offering the same promises.

June 5, just about a year after Edward Snowden “blew the whistle” on Internet security in the US, a national campaign named Reset the Net began. The idea of the campaign is to strengthen privacy rights online. Many major Internet sites have joined the campaign. Apple, Google, Yahoo, Tumblr.. etc have joined the campaign in the last few months.

“One year ago, we learned that the internet is under surveillance, and our activities are being monitored to create permanent records of our private lives – no matter how innocent or ordinary those lives might be,” Snowden said.

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