MIT Immersion Project Reveals What NSA's PRISM Program Knows

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2013-07-07 Print this article Print
Immersion Project

I've never been that uncomfortable about having the government or Google know that I get press releases (since they're meant to be public anyway) or that I communicate with tech support people since my communications there will also probably be public. I also don't communicate anything important using Gmail for exactly this reason.

But what about companies that use Google for their corporate email? Even if Google doesn't use that for marketing info, there's still the metadata that lives for a fairly long time in your Gmail account. As long as it's in there, it can be mined and analyzed. My Gmail account goes back to 2008, so there are years of communications available.

The NSA doesn't really need your permission to get this data because it can pick it up as it passes through certain parts of the Internet. Google can't do that, so it needs your account. There's not much you can do about the filtering of Internet data because your address information has to be readable if your email is going to get delivered.

You can assume that if the NSA is looking at your email, the information in Immersion is similar to what they will see. Consider that it is likely all of your email addresses (and not just Gmail) and that the metadata is examined along with the metadata from everyone you've corresponded with, and you can see just how much can be inferred from this data alone.

If this sounds as if you're stuck in some sort of digital hell, it's not as bad as it could be. First, you don't need to use Gmail, and that will limit the information Google has about you and your company. You also don't have to use Google for search, and that will limit it even more. None of this affects what the NSA may find out about you, but at least the government isn't selling your info for ad revenue.


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