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If you’re inclined not to freak out about how easily the federal government can monitor your life, it’s best not to listen to Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald. Speaking in an interview last night with MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell, Greenwald addressed not only his scoop on the government’s collection of Verizon phone records but also PRISM, a program in which the FBI and the National Security Agency are “tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs…”

For a layman’s translation, here’s how Greenwald put it on MSNBC:

And this program is a program in which the NSA takes its hands and sticks it directly into the servers of all of these — Internet giants, Facebook, Google, Skype, Apple, YouTube, that people around the world use to have communications. And lets the NSA grab whatever it is they want, either stored e-mails or real-time communication with nobody looking over their shoulder, nobody watching what they`re doing.

Any analyst in the NSA sitting at a keyboard can at any moment go into the system and listen to whatever he wants, read whatever he wants and then store it. It is extremely menacing. And there are no checks. This is how the world communicates, and the NSA is monitoring it at all times.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.