NSA taps into user data of Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, AOL, and others, secret files revealed.
Companies deny any knowledge of program in operation since 2007.
The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called PRISM, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.
It seems to me only logical that the government would put some system like this in place. With the scare of terrorism abounding, I get the distinct feeling that the governing authorities are and have been ramping up the eyes they have focused inward, on par to match the eyes on foreign shores. They have come to realize that integrity within its own borders is less than desired. I am not going to get into the subject of moral fiber deterioration and the influx of some who are not necessarily loyal to the stars and stripes.
The Guardian has verified the authenticity of the document, a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation – classified as top secret with no distribution to foreign allies – which was apparently used to train intelligence operatives on the capabilities of the program. The document claims “collection directly from the servers” of major US service providers.
The NSA Powerpoint
A slide briefing analysts at the National Security Agency about the program touts its effectiveness and features the logos of the companies involved.
This diagram shows how the bulk of the world’s electronic communications move through companies based in the United States.
The PRISM program collects a wide range of data from the nine companies, although the details vary by provider.
This slide shows when each company joined the program, with Microsoft being the first, on Sept. 11, 2007, and Apple the most recent, in October 2012.
Although the presentation claims the program is run with the assistance of the companies, all those who responded to a Guardian request for comment on Thursday denied knowledge of any such program.
In a statement, Google said: “Google cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data.”
The funny thing is, I would completely believe they are telling the truth to the best of their knowledge. But, I’m sure such information is known by very few in a large tech company, let alone making the rounds to a PR representative. I am sure if there is such a program, it has been guised under heavy national security documents, ergo – “Share this information, and it will be treason.”
Several senior tech executives insisted that they had no knowledge of PRISM or of any similar scheme. They said they would never have been involved in such a program. “If they are doing this, they are doing it without our knowledge,” one said.
An Apple spokesman said it had “never heard” of PRISM.
The NSA access was enabled by changes to US surveillance law introduced under President Bush and renewed under Obama in December 2012.
Hmmm… Once they have the authority to do so, they will never give it back. And so goes the evolution of the Government. It kind of makes me think of the hundreds of years it took Europe’s government to evolve into a beast of micromanagement… Then people were so happy to come to America, “because of the freedom.” We’re getting there… We’re getting there.
The program facilitates extensive, in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information. The law allows for the targeting of any customers of participating firms who live outside the US, or those Americans whose communications include people outside the US.
It also opens the possibility of communications made entirely within the US being collected without warrants.
Disclosure of the PRISM program follows a leak to the Guardian on Wednesday of a top-secret court order compelling telecoms provider Verizon to turn over the telephone records of millions of US customers.
The participation of the internet companies in PRISM will add to the debate, ignited by the Verizon revelation, about the scale of surveillance by the intelligence services. Unlike the collection of those call records, this surveillance can include the content of communications and not just the metadata.
So, I guess the other thing that I laugh about is how America sneers at China for having such control over the way their citizens use the internet. Which do you think is better: Don’t let your people have access to bad things on the internet, or let your people think they have the freedom to do what they want, and then give them no privacy… I suppose the latter beats the former.
Some of the world’s largest internet brands are claimed to be part of the information-sharing program since its introduction in 2007. Microsoft – which is currently running an advertising campaign with the slogan “Your privacy is our priority” – was the first, with collection beginning in December 2007.
It was followed by Yahoo in 2008; Google, Facebook and PalTalk in 2009; YouTube in 2010; Skype and AOL in 2011; and finally Apple, which joined the program in 2012. The program is continuing to expand, with other providers due to come online.
Collectively, the companies cover the vast majority of online email, search, video and communications networks.