What the world can do about PRISM? A few suggestions From F-Secure’s Mikko Hypponen

Cyber Politics, Security & Privacy

Ever since Edward Snowden – a former contractor with the United States’ National Security Agency – began releasing classified proof that the American government has been collecting massive amounts of data on its own citizens, allies and people all over the world, we’ve been hearing the question, “What can we do about this?”

In the U.S., citizens have protested calling on the government to “Restore the Fourth”, meaning the 4th Amendment of the Constitution that protects citizens against illegal search and seizure. But even that wouldn’t protect non-American citizens who are the primary targets of NSA surveillance.

Our Chief Research Officer Mikko Hypponen has a wake-up call for the world: As individuals there’s not much we can do.

But that doesn’t mean that there’s no hope.

Mikko recently answered a few questions for us and explained why PRISM is Europe’s chance to innovate with services that respect individual rights.

How can we stop PRISM?

There’s nothing individual users can do to change what USA is doing. The only things that can be effective are 1) political pressure 2) alternative services.

Do you see any signs of American allies standing up against surveillance?

We’re seeing very weak political pressure coming from European Parliament and from some of the world leaders. They just don’t seem to be willing to take US on for this.

What do you mean by “alternative services”?

Alternative services would mean that there would be services available to replace Google, Facebook, Amazon, Dropbox, Skype etc. They would NOT be controlled by American companies. The rest of the world has simply failed in being able to compete with them. We really should be doing better here.

How is this kind of surveillance affecting business?

Most companies are not being directly watched, but some are. Avoiding blanket surveillance like this is hard. Companies can deploy systems like VPN services and internal clouds to cut back to the amount of potential surveillance. IT startups often end up using Gmail for corporate email, Dropbox for corporate file sharing and so on. They should assume those services can be monitored.

Is there any way to completely avoid PRISM?

Surveillance like PRISM doesn’t care how the data is moved, whether it’s by cable or satellite. The NSA can gain access to the information via the provider itself . So unless you never use any third-party providers, you cannot avoid being monitored.

Watch Mikko’s TED Talk “Three types of online attack” to understand why freedom on the Internet matters so much to him:

[Image by DonkeyHotey | Flickr ]

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