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The PRISM program is a U.S. federal government surveillance program orchestrated by the National Security Agency (NSA). It has been in existence for several years but became more public in early 2013 after a testimony from Edward Snowden, a former NSA administrative employee.
The PRISM program obtains a wide variety of data about individuals, including data from the assets of large tech companies, like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo and Apple. Information captured by PRISM includes email, documentation, visual data and telecommunication logs. The program is controversial because of its potential use to target American citizens or individuals that reside in the United States.
The PRISM program is also globally controversial because of its collection of data about individuals outside the United States. The PRISM program operates under the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court). Additional controversy surrounds whether the court typically upholds surveillance requests and how court hearings on surveillance are operated. In general, citizens are beginning to demand more transparency about the PRISM program's approval process and what this program represents in terms of civil rights and digital privacy.