PRISM and Web Hosting
News about the NSA’s surveillance program, PRISM, has spread throughout the Internet quickly. It has, needless to say, created a frenzy. While the extent that the NSA will go to in order to obtain personal information about every single person is unclear, there are some things that you should know if you own or operate a web hosting company.
PRISM: What to Do When the Law Comes Knocking
There are certain web hosting groups out there that are banding together to say ‘no’ to an unreasonable security request. But, let’s be real here: most web hosting company owners aren’t going to stand up to the government. Technically, you can push back, but that’s legal grey area, and I’m not a lawyer. So, I’m not going to advise you on that topic.
What I can tell you is that your clients will appreciate any transparency you can provide. If you plan on cooperating with government agencies at every turn, you need to let your customers know that.
If you plan to push back, let this be known too. Web hosting is largely based on customer trust, so do your best to keep everything out in the open. If the government does come knocking, you do divulge information, and you are forced to comply, let your customers know. What else should you know?
PRISM: Is This US-Based Only?
Even if your company is based in, for example, South America, if you are sending traffic through Miami or another US location, you are susceptible to surveillance. It all depends on your true location. Do you have to give up important or private information?
Again, not necessarily. It really boils down to the reasons why government officials want certain types of data. If you are hosting a site that is suspicious, there might be good cause for a government agency to knock on your door. If you are just hosting regular sites that don’t seem odd in any way, you may be able to dispute the request. Then again, governments have a way of shutting down businesses that don’t cooperate, so that that into consideration too.
Got More PRISM and Hosting Questions?
A ton of concerns arose in the hosting world when PRISM was leaked. If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask away. Even if you have a general question, I will do my best to gain information for you, so just ask. Or, you can check out the ‘Ask An Exert’ panel on the far side of this post for additional info.