Unless you’ve been in a cave for the past couple of weeks (and thanks to Google’s new balloons you may have had internet access there), you’ll know that PRISM has been a big deal. The backlash has been almost universal and many have been horrified that such large scale surveillance has been going on. And right in the thick of all of this have been the major tech companies: Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter and more have all been linked to this.
These companies between them know more about us than we probably do, and they are being constantly hammered by government agencies for data.
Apple have been making great efforts to step away from the furore by releasing data on what requests they’ve taken from the NSA, but a lot of the data is lumped together. This means that requests for data from law enforcement and such are together with requests from the intelligence agencies so the data isn’t particularly accurate. This isn’t exactly inspiring confidence in these companies and despite their best efforts, suspicion is only growing.
Google are looking to assuage this by refusing to comply with the government deal that Apple took which meant all the requests for data were together in one lump, and then putting in a request to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to be able to release data on requests not as a lump, but in separate categories which will let users see just how much data has been released to these NSA requests and how many people have been affected.
Google have stated that out of around 8-9k data requests only around double those numbers of users have been affected, so it’s not like one request = 1 million users data gone. There is, however, still the problem of we don’t know what “data” the data given actually encorporates. Is it email? Gchat? Our texts on Android? Search histories? The data supplied could make the difference between people being mildly uncomfortable and horrified (admit it, your search history is the one you’d be horrified about).
It will be interesting to see what comes of this petition of Google’s, but it is nice to know that Google are willing to go out of their way to prove that they are not being frivolous with our data. And considering how much of it they have, that’s probably a good thing. For now though, it’s probably better to concentrate on more important matters, like that app you should probably be developing rather than reading this.