We live now under a massive interlocking network of computers.The information which you enter through computers which now encompass cellphones, ipads or tablets, desktops and netbooks can be intercepted along the way to the web servers or to another computer. The PRISM surveillance scandal which claims that the NSA was involved in massive collection of data through cooperating commercial IT companies in the likes of Google, Apple and Microsoft is not suprising.
In the wake of terrorism September 11, 2001, the US has become somewhat paranoid over terrorist attacks. I pity the poor agent poring over communications by lovers, parents and kids, teachers or students, or company executives with clients. Actually, computers can be taught to be more selective. But the system can be subject to abuse.
The world does not give a burp to Russia's or China's rigid control of information of their citizens. Perhaps the US is held to a higher standard, a standard which is not anymore achievable and presents new problems on the conflict between freedom and public safety and security.
What was wrong with the old system requiring a court order (warrants) to eavesdrop on communications? Inconvenience? This PRISM system must be STOPPED of course, and the Senate and/or Congress should put more laws, defining what is legal to provide stronger constitutional safeguards.
From the wikipedia article, we also gleaned that a whistle blower, William Binney, (2005) has designed a simple system Thinthread for analysis of Internet communications. Perhaps it is a simple case of professional jealousy which made him a whistleblower.
There is a another new whistle blower, Edward Snowden, who came out of the open just recently! check the last link.
Wikipedia PRISM Surveillance Program
Wikipedia William Binney article
Jewel vs. NSA