Now that another year is kicking in, New Year celebrations are done and that painful hangover is finally cured, it’s time to sit down – or stand up – and reflect on what will change concerning privacy in the USA. If there’s anything worth being highlighted from 2016, it is definitely the victory of Donald Trump in the presidential elections of last November, the main reason for such privacy concerns. If during the campaign the future 45th President of the United States had a solid opinion towards surveillance over privacy, concerns are much greater now: whether we like it or not, he will be in charge of the almighty data collector NSA.
More Surveillance, Less Privacy
If we take all of Snowden’s past revelations into account, the existence of the PRISM program, which records all data of the major American ISPs, and the fact that a court order may be enough to obtain any information they possess, we can conclude that online privacy in America is pretty much non-existing. But when President-elect Trump takes office, the mass surveillance is expected to become even more intrusive as the NSA, FBI and CIA are likely to gain more power. This can represent a problem for many tech companies, as we all remember Donald Trump’s position on the case that opposed Apple to the FBI over hacking a terrorist’s encrypted iPhone.
Among the new measures likely to be passed there’s a new rule towards renewing the government’s aptitude to collect the contents of e-mails of giant corporations such as Facebook or Google. Furthermore, the infamous Section 702 of the Patriot Act, responsible for running PRISM and other mass surveillance programs, is set to be extinguished by the end of 2017 if Congress doesn’t choose to reauthorize it – which is likely to happen.
Everyone Can Be Seen as a Threat
There’s also currently a case already underway that opposes Wikimedia (the company behind the beloved Wikipedia) to the NSA regarding the so-called upstream surveillance, something that happens in the “backbone” of the internet, as it is usually described. This is to say that the NSA installed a number of surveillance mechanisms directly in the cables and routers of ISP networks to spy on whoever uses it – without any warrant. This means that if you happen to e-mail or chat online with anyone outside the U.S. – or visit any foreign websites, regardless of which one it is – the NSA is most likely looking at the contents of your data.
Last but not least, the FBI is also looking to get legislation approved that would allow the agency to obtain browsing histories, IP addresses and more without any prior authorization or warrant – a measure that already counts with the opposition of Google and Facebook for instance.
With all this being said, the future of online privacy for American citizens will most likely be darker than ever.