The Paradigm Shift and the NSA’s Prism Program

The recent practice of the NSA of gathering metadata on individuals is a paradigm shift in the history of information gathering by the government.

On June 10, 2014, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a congressional meeting with Michael J. Morrel, the former acting director of the CIA and a member of the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies. Before the committee, Morrel stated this about the NSA’s gathering of metadata:

It is absolutely true that the [Patriot Act] 215 program [NSA Prism] hasn’t played a significant role in disrupting any attacks at this point. But it only has to be successful once to be important.

Metadata, which is data about data, are meta tags that gather data, contextualizes data, and analyzes data of both human and computer content. Metadata, essentially, gathers key words and information about certain media types such as name, author, date published, user, length, content summary, image size, etc.

NSA’s Prism, created under the Patriot Act Section 215, does the opposite of what Search Engine Optimization—a digital marketing tool that helps businesses to more visible online so consumers can find their brand and buy the brand’s product or service—does, by using terms within metadata to create profiles on citizens.

However, despite all of the information that the NSA Prism program has gathered it has yet to achieve the its low, low goal of being “successful once.”

The nu-metal band Korn released its eleventh studio album, The Paradigm Shift, in 2013. The music video for “Spike in My Veins,” one of the album’s singles, went a different direction than most videos by targeting the NSA surveillance program and the media’s manipulation of media.

John Gentile of Rolling Stone explains that the music video “attacks governmental data surveillance and modern information overload.” It’s an effective critique of the concerning paradigm shift in the government’s information gathering techniques permitted by the PATRIOT Act under President George W. Bush and extended under his successor—take a look:

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