In June of 2012, an individual named Edward Snowden went into hiding after leaking information on the United States’ PRISM Program, which had the permission and the capabilities to perform wide-scale surveillance on national and international countries.
In the following months, Snowden continued to leak information on spying initiatives, as well as a plethora of NSA emails and documents, pressuring corporations such as Google and Yahoo to release user information, all in the name of National Security. The repercussions were dire in all scenarios.
After widespread public outcry of NSA’s programs, many tech giants made online privacy their top priority, by informing users of tactics utilized to seize private information. Additionally, many companies, such as Google, Apple, Yahoo, and Twitter are collaborating, lobbying for greater protection of users through updated legislation.
The aforementioned legislation is the Email Privacy Act, which seeks to provide owners of digital properties the same rights given to owners of physical objects. The bill classifies digital and physical objects as equivalent. It was first introduced in May 2013, yet remains in subcommittee hearings.
The legislation seeks to update the outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1988, which states, “Data stored in the cloud should be afforded less protection than data stored locally.”
In response to the ousted NSA programs, Microsoft sued the U.S. Government arguing that a search warrant issued within the U.S. cannot be legally enacted to access user data in overseas servers. Microsoft has since lost the lawsuit, but has announced intent to appeal the decision.
Similarly, other corporations have taken measures to increase security; Google has introduced full-encryption to Gmail that will be turned on by default. Apple has secured iOS 8 to such an extent that the FBI has approached Congress to mandate reductions.
We fully expect online privacy innovation to continue, as worldwide concerns for security mount. As tech giants lead modernization efforts, we look forward to new technology to keep us all safe.