Short for Planning Tool for Resource Integration, Synchronization, and Management, PRISM is an NSA tool to monitor and collect data from suspected terrorists and foreign Internet traffic. This data is used to gather information on foreign intelligence. While the main target of the PRISM system is said to be foreign Internet traffic, this tool allows access to Internet providers residing in the United States.
Companies providing the government access include Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, AOL, Facebook, Apple, PalTalk, YouTube, and Skype. Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo providing up to 98% of PRISM access. Some of these companies, such as Google, deny providing the government unfettered access to user data. Some companies have even redesigned their systems to improve the interface used by PRISM. PRISM monitors are e-mail, chat, videos, file transfers, stored data, VoIP phone calls (including conference calls and Skype calls), logins, and any activities filtered by the tool. As far as the legality of this process, this type of monitoring is looked upon as a matter of national security and is under the umbrella of the Patriot Act.