Fixing PRISM

The risks relating to PRISM came as no surprise to privacy and security specialists such as Casper Bowden, independent privacy and surveillance expert and former Chief Privacy Advisor to Microsoft. In fact, last year he co-authored a report to the European Parliament outlining the risks posed by FISA 702 and associated loopholes in EU Data Protection law.

Today’s article on ComputerWorldUK takes the form of a question and answer session with Bowden, exploring some of the elements of FISA which have been alarmingly highlighted by the revelations of PRISM. It also seeks to respond to the question of how we can be protected against widespread cyber-surveillance and makes concrete proposals. The interview was conducted in February, before PRISM’s existence became known, but as he commented at the Open Rights Group conference last week, the analysis is as relevant today as it ever was.

Getting Out of PRISM

The revelations about U.S. intelligence activities over the past week have been a wake up call to us all. The implications of big brother’s ever searching gaze are far reaching and require immediate consideration, especially given the ongoing growth of cloud computing.

One website is usefully collating details of software systems that reduce the risk of your communications being intercepted. Looking through some of the software presented on “PRISM break” helps to visualise the extent to which the existence of PRISM compromises your internet privacy. Having seen the wide range of solutions they suggest, perhaps you’ll want to overhaul your cloud service use completely, or perhaps you’ll settle for smaller changes, like installing the HTTPS everywhere browser plug-in.

Whatever you decide, there are lots of options out there. So be encouraged, we are not helpless when it comes to protecting our safety and privacy online. Together with the open source community we do not need to give in to the big brother states and corporations of this world. Read more in this week’s InfoWorld article.