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PRISM Nine: The Implications

Jason Ditz

June 10, 2013

The leaks about America’s ever growing (and already ridiculously large) surveillance state came with a handy list of nine companies that joined the program. Those companies are, per the NSA’s own leaked data, giving the NSA direct access to their servers and, according to officials, the PRISM Nine also went out of their way to redesign their systems to easier facilitate the NSA’s spying on Americans.

Microsoft was the first on the list, joining way back when PRISM was just getting started. We all know Microsoft, and with its creation of Bing and its acquisition of Skype (another of the PRISM Nine), it is a big player in this scandal.

Here’s where it gets even worse (as it always does). Microsoft is coming out with a new video game console later this year. It will cost $499. I like video games. I even own Microsoft’s current video game system. But then it dawned on me – this new system will:

1. Require a constant connection to the Internet to even function.
2. Require the new version of Kinect to be always connected, and it is always on.

Kinect, for those unfamiliar, is an array of high definition cameras that can track movement in three dimensions. It was conceived of as a "joystickless" way to control games. It also includes a microphone, and that is always on on the new Xbox One, nominally so you can say commands and the system executes them without needing a remote control.

Which means Microsoft wants to install a three-dimensional surveillance array into your home, and require you to keep it always on, always feeding data to the Internet. And this company is a known facilitator of NSA surveillance of individual Americans. See the problem?

Microsoft was never high up on my "trust" list in the first place, but I hope no one is stupid enough to pay them $499 for the privilege of installing always-on surveillance equipment in your home to watch you knowing, not suspecting, but knowing that they are passing that information on to the NSA.



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