I have been fielding a decent number of calls and emails from reporters on the NSA PRISM scandal. A lot of people are trying to synthesize reasonable technical explanations for how the NSA could implement the program described in the leaked PowerPoint deck and keep it secret for so long. In an effort to improve the quality of the public discussion, I have decided to create a taxonomy of the theories that I have seen floated and supply my own commentary in italics.
To be clear, I have no special knowledge or insight into this program. Everything listed below is based upon data contained in the news articles I have seen. I also recognize that many of these theories sound far-fetched, although I have to admit that my personal Overton Window for crazy conspiracy theories has shifted in the last 24 hours.
My goal is to keep this list up to date as more information is published, so please let me know if you have any corrections or additions by leaving a comment or via email. My GPG key is available here.
The list is below the fold…