Guardian Tool Lets You Know Exactly How Panicked to Be About NSA Surveillance
Dear NSA: I love bald eagles and America, I promise.
If you’re paranoid and obsessive, not to mention prone to oversharing, there’s a good chance you’re a little concerned about this whole NSA surveillance thing. And it’s not unlikely that you’ve been mentally running through every text, phone call, picture, email, and IM you’ve sent in the past, well, ever. But worry no more! The Guardian has developed a tool to see just how likely it is that the NSA cares about you. At all.
If you haven’t had access to the Internet, television, or a newspaper in the past week, here’s the deal: The NSA has allegedly been using a system called PRISM to view communications by users of various companies, including Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, to the horror of many that have recently gained a new appreciation for the Fourth Amendment. While this program is nominally intended to target non-Americans (and prevent terrorism) by looking for content that uses certain keywords, it’s almost certain that a good deal of American content has been amassed as well.
Basically, specific sections of FISA and Patriot Act allow the NSA to seize any information that might be connected to a potential threat, so innocent bystanders can get caught up in wide data sweeps for specific keywords or by communicating with someone who isn’t a U.S. citizen. That’s a generalization, but you get the idea.
So how worried should you be?
Honestly, if any of your data has been collected by PRISM and you’re a citizen, it’s unlikely that you’re being closely monitored. Unless your personal life is filled with discussions about bombs and overthrowing the government. If it is, however, you might have bigger problems than being spied on by the NSA.
If you’re still concerned, check it out for yourself, and see what method of communication leaves you the most vulnerable. Then cross your fingers that following the links on this article didn’t flag you as a potential threat. Or maybe, just to be safe, start signing everything: I sure do love America.