Lately, there has been quite a buzz about NSA's ability to spy on the American public. It's (the spying) been going on sometime, but only now are new advances in handling large data-sets of information becoming privy to capturing any and all information.
An article by the Washington Post had this to say about the NSA's new capabilities:
The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time.
Scary, aye? It's really only the tip of the Iceberg. Some researchers have claimed that the NSA actually propped or got Facebook and Google started by contributing large sums of money for market propaganda and the like. The 'herd' mentality often works well, and what marketing relies on to get flocks of people doing the same thing. Ironic, how Facebook was already online for years and MySpace was the more popular, but then, all of the sudden, Facebook was the 'it' girl socially speaking. For Google, they started with Yahoo's database, basically the same thing, but claimed to be better by using several computers to do searches, instead of individual powerful centralized servers. These sites are really nothing special (or certainly was not the case) before all the marketing hype. Showing up in movies, used by Actors and so on.
You may have heard about the conspiracy theory referring to project Echelon. A large network of data collecting satellites that capture conversations thru email, texting, phone calls and such all around the world. Now, today, Drudge has a reference to a story about the technocracy framework of Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Verizon etc. all ordered to turn over data in regular intervals. So, what do they get in return? Well, none of these have to pay taxes, and that alone is some good incentive. Not-to-mention, if it is true that the NSA/CIA funded some these back in the early 90s, then they already own them anyway. Microsoft actually gave Apple over 240 million$ back in the early 2000s. Apple used this to start the i-series ('i' everything).
PRISM shouldn't be any surprise, it's basically a partnership between big government and big business for information control. Often, this is referred to as Facism (Fash-ism).
Back to the article by the WP, it goes on to say:
The highly classified program, code-named PRISM, has not been disclosed publicly before. Its establishment in 2007 and six years of exponential growth took place beneath the surface of a roiling debate over the boundaries of surveillance and privacy. Even late last year, when critics of the foreign intelligence statute argued for changes, the only members of Congress who know about PRISM were bound by oaths of office to hold their tongues.
With this kind of setup and ambition to capture and evaluate private conversations (well, not so private now), makes Echelon that much more believable, and that PRISM is a reflection of the infamous project, but focused solely on the US.