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NSA global surveillance online users under the hood

As per the recent ruling by a court in US, the National Security Agency’s collection of phone records was declared to be illegal. Although there was a ruling in 2013 in which the court prompted the US Congress to stop the program with immediate effect, they could not bring it to law. This decision was appreciated by experts and campaigners from all over the world, which had been a direct blow to the surveillance program by NSA.

It was only when Edward Snowden exposed the NSA in June 2013 that the severity of their surveillance program was made public. The US government started this program as an aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and is continuing it as a security measure.

In the recent ruling, the validity of “Patriot Act” was also questioned and it is a topic of debate among the senators. As per the anti-terrorism act, which is to end on 1st June, there is a high speculation if this act would be reorganized with any changes or not.

Rand Paul, a presidential candidate for the 2016 elections, tweeted and criticized the NSA publicly that they cannot intrude into the lives of law abiding and innocent citizens.

Senator Rand Paul's tweet about NSA surveillance

What does the NSA ruling mean for you?

NSA has been in the news for the wrong reasons off late due to their privacy intrusion measures being used. It was initially confined to the tracking of phone records, but it is considered to be an illegal measure and NSA does not have a strong stand to defend its actions.

The surveillance program has been ongoing since years and became popular in 2006, when the interception room where they captured all the data was revealed. As per the records, all the data from AT&T networks was stored and analyzed in this room.

Watch how Mark Klein, a former AT&T technician, exposes a secret spyroom 641A inside AT&T quarters:

This move by the NSA attracted a lawsuit which was filed by Electronic Frontier Foundation, which opened a can of worms. It was later revealed that several major companies such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Skype, Yahoo etc. were all participants of this program and all their user data was being passed on to NSA.

So, all residents of US have definitely come under the scrutiny of NSA at least at one point of time. Also, all the users of the abovementioned companies have come under the surveillance as the companies had given absolute rights to spy on any of their users. By stopping this law, people who respect privacy would appreciate it and feel satisfied that no one spies on their data.

At the same time, security experts are of the opinion that by ending this program, there would be major security breaches and terror attacks cannot be tracked down or predicted. There have been many unsuccessful terrorists activities in the past due to the timely surveillance and analysis done by NSA on their communication. Due to this, experts say that even 9/11 could be averted if they had enough rights to access emails and communication lines, so that they would get to know about the attacks beforehand.

What measures can be taken to protect yourself from the surveillance?

To ensure that you remain undetected, it is best recommended that you make use of virtual private networks, or VPNs. It protects your identity online and your location is hidden as the IP address is changed. VPNs make use of various encryption algorithms, due to which your private data cannot be accessed easily by any surveillance or data gathering agencies.

Don’t use a VPN yet? Think it’s too complicated? Don’t worry, we got you covered – check out our best VPNs comparison and find yourself some privacy.

IPvanish vs. HideMyAss – best VPN

Also, when you make use of apps for instant messaging, switch to apps with end-to-end encryption which means your messages cannot be accessed or retrieved midway. Also, for additional security, you could try Silent Circle which is best known for sending encrypted mails and messages. However, all the receivers would have to use the same service to establish communication between both.

If you are considering the usage of fake email address, it is not a viable option as they can be traced back to the original sender easily.

As per the NSA’s surveillance program, only 4 location points are adequate to locate a user correctly most of the time. Hence, avoiding the NSA is nearly impossible, but you can always resort to methods that would reduce their surveillance.

The future of surveillance

The surveillance graffiti
Image credit: Zabou, zabou.me

Do you think the court would act strong and put an end to the surveillance program? Do you think it is okay for the NSA to spy on you citing security reasons?

Some countries such as the United Kingdom took on the NSA by launching the Snooper’s Charter. However, the ethics of nations are put into question when such projects are given a green signal. Again, it is a move by the governments to stay away from public glare. No individual would be ready to willfully let the NSA spy on them, even after dastardly attacks like 9/11.

Let us know about what you feel about this program and what moves you would resort to safeguard your privacy. We would be glad to hear from you!

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