How Does NSA Almost Kill the Internet? (2)

The Silicon Valley is shaking, just like collated damage in the anti-terrorism war. But the things will get worse.

Technology companies don’t know the Prism project until June, they just know there’s a project with several-year history, namely for the national security, providing specific data and information to the government in the case of the absence of an official document. The legal justification of this project comes from a series of legal provisions and expanded addition. The “Foreign Intelligence Security Act” in 1978, referred to as FISA, created a secret court so as to obtain the requested information. Amendment of FISA in 2008 amendments a new part of the law, namely section 702. This amendment gives President Bush the monitoring plan that can be launched completely secretly without written permission. NSA cited the FISA admendment as specific legal basis of prism project. (Except Prism) more secretive surveillance operations are all based on the Executive Order 12333 of Reagan era, this order authorize NSA to collect the various information and data of foreigners who should be focused on.

Some companies seem to thinks that it’s properly to collect customers’ information to the NSA. Verizon has never refused to provide its tens of millions of users’ critical billing information, telephone numbers, call duration and other information for NSA. Because the telecom companies don’t need to promote itself to customers based on trust, customers rarely expect to get something from the monopoly. On catering to consumers and the government, telecom companies seem to give priority to their government regulators.

Compared to telecommunications companies, technology companies are in another situation. Technology Companies’ CEOs have been repeatedly claimed that without customers’ trust, they have no business. They rely on users’ willingness to share information. On the contrary, these users can get better services, while at the same time the customers expect technology companies will ensure their personal information security and safety. Users have no reason to think that their information can be given to the government without the written permission.

At least one company challenged the unconstitutional information request. Yahoo launched a secret battle on FIFA court to resist handing over users’ information. But the fight failed. In August 22, 2008, the court decided to support government means for national security and give procedural safeguards, achieving consistency with the law in some form and exclude user privacy concerns, therewith Yahoo has no place to appeal.

These queries may have violated a number of large technology companies, but it’s not enough to pose a challenge on its business. They weren’t forced to make obvious modification on infrastructure in order to deal with data query. Usually, they passed the data and information to government-owned special equipment.

For some small companies, compliance is not always easy. For example, Lavabit mailbox is a safe start-up company, which allows users including Snowden to encrypt e-mail messages, the government had asked them to hand over the important information that’s involved in Snowden event to government. Lavabit cannot do this, because if it obedient, all the users’ information will be fully exposed to the government which will lead the company closed.

Twitter’s legal counsel Vijaya Gadde said:”The government can request information, but they cannot force you to give information. You can make things easier or simpler.” Google also said that when a request is “very broad”, Google will push it back. These small things indicate a subtle resistance to government inquiries. FISA requires the government to compensate the enterprises that have been retrieved information. Google said they did not want to bother the government to ask for money. But one company said that it used this clause, in the hope of limiting the extent of government requests. The company’s executives said: “Initially, we thought we should not do this for money, but we recognize that this is a good thing, it could force the government to stop and think about it.”

But finally, the financial motivation of cooperation with the government exists.  A senior director of the company said: “Large companies have business with the government, these companies cannot tell government officials: ‘we are fighting against you – can we get the 400 million dollar contract?’ ”

After the shocks of Prism project, individuals and groups begin to enhance the awareness of information and data security, and the data and information protection has been paid more attention. For more information about data security and information protection, you can click here.