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It is hard to argue that the American surveillance state is much different from the surveillance state of communist East Germany, the Soviet Union, or any other dictatorship. East Germans, Soviet Russians, and others living under a dictator’s boot largely accepted such perverted surveillance as inevitable and unavoidable. Many Americans will do the same, not even trying to stop PRISM surveillance.
Human beings have a right not to be under surveillance by the same people who can charge them with a crime, confiscate all their property, put them in jail, or drone them to death, unless there is a compelling reason to do so, on an individual case by case basis, approved by a neutral third party. Anything else is a perversion of the fundamental rights of humans.
The perverse invasion of our fundamental human right to be free from ubiquitous surveillance can be avoided. Stop PRISM surveillance with a few simple tools and techniques. Whether you are George McFly, doing some “bird watching” or you are surreptitiously video recording a sports reporter in her hotel room, surveillance of this kind is for perverts.
Extent of PRISM Surveillance
To stop PRISM surveillance, you need to understand exactly what information the US government has been collecting about you. If you haven’t taken specific steps to protect your privacy, the government has collected:
All of the phone numbers you dial,
Every phone number who dials you,
The owner of each of those phone numbers,
The length of each call,
The location of both phones involved in the call,
The time of the call
Every website you have visited,
Every term you have typed into a search engine,
The content of every email you have sent,
All activity on Facebook,
All activity on Skype,
All of your Instant Messages,
Where you were whenever you did any of these things,
Who was close to you,
Your bank information,
Your credit card information.
And much, much more.
Conversations with your lawyer or spouse are not exempt. In a digital society, a collection of these records on any individual represents a very complete picture of the innermost thoughts and desires, as well as almost all of the daily actions, whether you are technologically savvy or not. Although this surveillance currently affects hundreds of millions of Americans, there are specific steps that can be taken to stop PRISM surveillance of much of this information.
Strategies to Stop PRISM Surveillance
Government reform will no doubt be the focus of many to stop perverted PRISM surveillance. Government reform can be effective if it reduces the power of the government to be a peeping Tom on law abiding people, and it is clearly necessary. It is, after all, the government that is acting the perv. Creating another government body to oversee the current surveillance apparatus, on the other hand, will be like putting a second fox in charge of overseeing the fox that is guarding the hen house. The secret FISA court is one such fox that failed to prevent unconscionable abuses of Americans.
Legislative Effort to Stop PRISM Surveillance
Legislators write the statutes that innocent people rely on to protect themselves from unwarranted government intrusion. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution is one such statute which was drafted, in part, in reaction to writs of assistance, general authorization granted to British soldiers to search any house for contraband, without any suspicion of a crime being committed. It has been held by the courts that “the principal object of the Fourth Amendment is the protection of privacy.”
Arguably, the Fourth Amendment should already apply to the perverted surveillance of the PRISM program. If the Fourth Amendment, as officially interpreted and applied, does not cover the records gathered by the PRISM program, every effort to extend statutory protection to those records should be made.
Passing new laws, or repealing old ones, may or may not achieve widespread success. The legislative abortions of the PATRIOT Act, the Bank Secrecy Act, FISA, and numerous other actions by Congress and other legislative bodies have done far more to violate the fundamental right of privacy of Americans over the past several years than to protect our rights. Plus, there are plenty of perverts currently in Congress defending the digital raping of Americans.
Judicial Reform to Stop PRISM Surveillance
The court system is another tool to effect change to protect the human freedom for law abiding people to privately communicate. Whether through lawsuits in civil court, or appeals of criminal court rulings, real change can and has occurred through the judicial branch.
This option is less attractive than effecting change through the legislature. Although there are many strong judicial advocates for privacy, like Alex Kozinski in the Ninth Circuit, himself a survivor of a Romanian dictatorship, the judicial branch has had mixed success at protecting privacy in recent years. Courts also have significant hurdles to overcome to apply the principal of protecting the fundamental right of privacy in all of the records collected in the PRISM program.
The ability of the government to collect certain records of phone calls is well engrained in American jurisprudence, as well as the inability to protect some of the most private records that you share with others. The judicial branch was also tapped to protect the rights of Americans in secret FISA courts, but we see where that check and balance has gotten us.
Executive Reform to Stop PRISM Surveillance
The executive branch could issue an order, draft a policy memo, or take some other step to limit its collection of private information of Americans. This does not prevent the next perverted president from issuing his own secret orders to start the PRISM program again. Plus, it is the executive branch that has been abusing the law secretly in the first place.
Executive officials have repeatedly lied to Congress and the American people over this, and other actions. Nixon, W., Obama, it does not matter the political party, all have abused the rights of Americans through surreptitious and illegal surveillance. What makes us think the next president will be any different?
Corporate Protection to Stop PRISM Surveillance
Many of the service providers whose customer information was siphoned off by PRISM have fallen all over themselves to prove to the public that they have not revealed private customer information. Private information in the hands of your service providers is not as bad as being in the hands of the drone masters, because you can choose not to use their services. The bigger problem is that your service providers are compelled to fork over your data. Their efforts to pacify their customers may be motivated more by the enormous profits they make when you provide them with data than with their protection of your fundamental rights. Verizon, Facebook, Yahoo, Skype and the dozens of other companies whose data is now in the hands of the Feds cannot protect your privacy, especially if they have any business in the U.S.
Not only are these companies prohibited by law from telling you if they have gotten any secret orders to provide customer data, the Fourth Amendment is least likely to protect the data you give up to companies. They can be easily compelled to be a witness against you.
How To Stop PRISM Surveillance
The most effective way to stop PRISM surveillance of as much information as possible, is for each individual to protect their own privacy. There are numerous tools and techniques, most of which we have already discussed on HowToVanish.com, to protect your fundamental right to be unbothered by perverts. All of the tools and techniques follow two important principles.
Open Source Software to Stop PRISM Surveillance
First, wherever possible use open source software to communicate. Open source software is free and available to anyone. The code is publicly reviewable so any weaknesses and backdoors can be found and revealed. If software code isn’t open source, it can’t be reviewed and may contain code which allow perverts in the company, or in the NSA, to watch you. Open source software usually has no central organization to coerce into spying on you.
Use Resources in Foreign Countries to Stop PRISM Surveillance
The second best option is to use service providers in other countries, or who are partly in other countries. Although foreign service providers are subject to coercion just like US companies, it is at least better than having all of your data in one jurisdiction.
Protect Your Email
Use Thunderbird with the Enigmail plugin to get free email encryption. See the specific steps in a previous How To Vanish article on how to set up free email encryption.
Silent Circle is another good encrypted email solution.
Unless you are using some very sophisticated techniques, you won’t be able to protect the meta data of your email, like the email address of the sender and recipient, etc.
Protect Phone Conversations
Silent Circle also has encrypted phone and video conferencing services.
Again, the call logs of numbers dialed, time, etc. will likely be available, but not the content.
Protect Instant Messages
Although I wouldn’t rely on incompetence of the surveillance apparatus as a strategy, even the encryption of text messages offered by Apple created some problems for the federales in Washington who were trying to surveil to no avail.
Protect Web Surfing
Cryptohippie is a paid service that is very robust and does a good job at protecting internet privacy.
Identity Cloaker is another paid service based outside the US.
Stop PRISM Surveillance
Using these basic tools for communication, for a little time and effort you can stop the NSA perverts from spying on everything you do. You won’t protect everything, but you can protect a lot. You will greatly reduce the scope of surveillance of your personal life and hopefully help you get rid of that icky feeling of being watched by perverts. You must take control of your privacy if you hope to retain any.
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