There is more to PRISM than just NSA slides and government data mining. We now know that the government has recorded our emails and phone calls. But what more are they recording?
On Monday, two major tech conferences showcased the future of technological innovation: Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference (WWDC) presented the cutting-edge, game-changing iOS 7 Apple mobile operating system, and the new Macbook laptop; simultaneously, E3, the biggest public gaming conference in the world, saw Microsoft present it's next-generation Xbox console to gamers, which boasts a new motion-censor Kinect feature that scans the room and allows you to remotely control the system with a swipe of your hand or a voice command.
Both companies, Apple and Microsoft, have been implicated as collaborators in the PRISM scandal.
Both companies showcased new tech innovations that are more deeply connected to everything we do than ever before.
At E3 and WWDC, the future of PRISM was on display.
The PRISM scandal which has rocked Washington and Silicon Valley underlines a relatively new challenge to the core values of American society: For the first time in history the government can, literally, track everything we do.
It's kind of always been assumed, though, right? The "government" is "everywhere" and sees "everything" ... straight out of 1984.
But 1984 has always been fiction, no matter how close it imitated reality. The PRISM scandal, to lay it bare, is scary because it proves that fiction has become reality.
Our vast technological web is becoming more and more entwined with everything we do — it's our social life and our professional life; technology maintains our deepest secrets, and provides a public image for who we are. Technology is who we are. And the government and major technological industry has exploited this feature of our modern world. That's what makes PRISM so frustrating.
But it gets worse when you think that this is only the tip of the iceberg, and the battle we're waging today with PRISM may just be the start of many more civil liberties battles to come.
PRISM brought to light privacy issues in the tech world, but one of the top tech companies at the heart of this scandal — Microsoft — has been defending itself over privacy allegations weeks before Edward Snowden leakes a couple of classified files.
This particular issue centered on Mincrosoft's Xbox One, which is billed as the next-generation of gaming and an evolution in entertainment. Xbox One has been subject to an absolute firestorm of criticism from hardcore gamers who have called the new console invasive. The Xbox One is built on a couple of outlandish features:
- Xbox One will always be on, in stand-by, and plugged into a broadband connection;
- Consoles will have to check-in online every 24 hours;
- If you're playing your games on another console, you'll have to check-in every hour;
- Added to this feature is the Xbox Kinect, a motion-censor device which tracks users' voice and hand commands, almost like an all-seeing Xbox eye.
So you have an "always-on" Xbox tracking you with the Kinect "eye," beaming info back to some Microsoft cloud ceneter which, as we now know, is tapped by the government.
The criticsm about Xbox One was so loud, it prompeted Microsoft to issue detailed information on the console before the E3 event on Monday, in which they said: "If you don’t want the Kinect sensor on while playing games or enjoying your entertainment, you can pause Kinect."
The fact that a gaming company has to make that clear distinction is scary. I mean, this is a video game console. Which kids play. Not some high-tech NSA mumbo jumbo. A next-gen video game console.
Technology is our society. Look around you. Any street corner. Any office. Any shopping mall. Any restaurant. You will see people tapping on touchscreens. We come home and turn on the TV. We play video games. We play Wii bowling and Snapchat chats that don't really delete with our significant others. Technology is constantly evolving. We wait and foam at the mouth when E3 shows us the new Xbox, or WWDC gives us the next Apple gadget. We want Siri to understand us better and Kinect to respond to our hand motion better. We want technology to be more seamless, more integrated in our lives.
The new Xbox gaming system and the "top secret" PRISM scandal: At the the intersection of two completely different news items we see the future of privacy battles. The future of technology is also the future of civil liberties.