Though we have many articles on how to stay private on the Internet, it seems the NSA PRISM has shed water on all that. Of course, those articles will help you stay private – your ISPs and Data Centers won’t know what you are doing. Thus, local law enforcement agents and detectives may also be not able to access and intercept your work. But when it comes to NSA PRISM, can you avoid it? Yes… and No! In my opinion, getting around NSA PRISM is more of luck (or coincidence as many call it) based rather than application-specific. We do have many methods to stay private on the Internet. Do some sites say VPNs can help but tell me how NSA can leave them out if they can force Google into giving away your details?
Avoid NSA PRISM – Tips To Stay Private
This article talks about methods to stay private in the era of a new Big Brother – the NSA PRISM – where many of the data gathering centers (Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and whatnot) have already been co-operating with NSA officials. Although these companies have denied their involvement or stated their position on PRISM, the fact remains that people are now suspicious.
Read: Top ten programs for privacy and security on the Internet to stay secure.
Would You Want To Go Back To The Caves?
I won’t name them here, but some of the very reputed websites gave advice that made me comment – get Internet disconnected, go back to caves and use jungle language to communicate. Would you agree if I ask you to leave or rather delete all of your social media accounts? Would you agree if I ask you to stop using phones for interacting with your peers? It was a pretty reputed website that carried an article asking people to leave social media sites – all of them. For me, it is not acceptable.
I live by social media – Facebook, Twitter, Plus, and LinkedIn. They are the places where I gain information about all I am interested in – news, technology and society etc. Why should I give up all that just because someone in the NSA is (maybe) watching my activities?
After an analysis of all possible options, I did find out there is no way you can escape PRISM. Maybe the government may stop the program as it stopped a similar program in the past, but will continue collecting data without your knowledge. In that case, we’ll need another Snowden to come out and tell us our data is being tapped and our privacy is at stake.
‘How To’ Tips To Avoid NSA Prism
These are some methods that I took into account to evaluate if at all one can avoid NSA PRISM. What actually is happening in PRISM can be stated as follows:
- US NSA is looking for certain ‘keywords’ in data packets that are being routed via US-based data centers. Most of the privacy providers have their data centers and servers located in the US if I am not wrong. Few are offshore to provide faster service to customers/users.
- US NSA is looking at calls – call origination number, called number, and duration plus the frequency of calls to establish if a person can be a criminal. Don’t we as friends talk to the same people, again and again, often getting emotional enough to drag a call? What about couples who spend/waste more than half an hour asking the other one to disconnect first? Going by what NSA says, if it is only the frequency and duration to determine criminal intentions, most of them would end up in prisons. Of course, they will be listening to the conversations if they find anything suspicious
Now that we have in mind how NSA PRISM operates – or what they told us about its working, let us see what our options are.
[A] Use A Proxy
A proxy will hide your original IP address. But that does not mean the original IP cannot be traced. If any system has the ability to break the proxy mechanism, it is the NSA! But you can still give it a try.
[B] Use Encryption
What are you writing? If it is something that needs to be very private, you need to get good encryption software. If it is just regular mail, the feds will get bored reading your email. Also, as with the first case, NSA is something that can and will break into any kind of encryption as it has privileges to military-grade software.
Please do remember that NSA PRISM is about scanning data packets based on keywords. If you are a normal Internet user, the chances of you using those keywords in your emails would be pretty less. Thus, the probability of your emails getting around PRISM database would be higher.
I do not think encryption will be of much help here. Rather, it will create problems for the recipients. They too will have to install the same encryption program to decrypt your emails. Again, you can give it a try as not every time would the data packet land up with NSA PRISM servers and hence will provide you security against lower levels of scanning.
[C] Use A VPN
A VPN provides you a safe tunnel to route your data. Again, the data packets are encrypted and sent to the recipient or website via US-based servers. Well, most of those data packets are likely to move through the US-based servers. Nevertheless, India, China, Iran and other countries too are monitoring Internet traffic for “SECURITY PURPOSES” so your privacy is again at stake.
And when the biggies of Internet – Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc – gave in to NSA, what is the guarantee that your VPN provider will not provide them with your data. In this case, since all your communication is being routed through the VPN, imagine what you just gave to the NSA PRISM.
[D] Be Careful With What You Post On The Internet
You might think you are not doing anything illegal so you need not fear PRISM or any other surveillance methods. If that is the case, you need to know that the rules and regulations in different countries are different. Plus, there are many laws in each country/county/region which we are not aware of. Now suppose you go ahead and post you donated XYZ sum to some agency and turns out the agency is blacklisted, cops will be knocking your doors!
The Opt-Out Of PRISM website will suggest you some alternative software. See if you find something of interest there. The Dark Side Of The PRISM Firefox addon will warn you if you visit a PRISM website.
How To Avoid NSA Prism: Summary
The above is not to frighten you. Do NOT get paranoid. Do what you are doing on the Internet, but stay in control of what you are posting. The same applies to phone calls. I won’t recommend cutting down on talk time, but do make sure you suppress the feeling of saying anything that might be used against you. US NSA PRISM, Indian ICMS though meant for containing terrorism, maybe deliberately or unintentionally misused. Stay in control, stay safe!
Space constraint makes me stop here. The bottom line is – You cannot avoid NSA PRISM, but sure, you can minimize the damage.
If you have any ideas on how to get around NSA PRISM and similar surveillance methods, please share them with us.