Apple, Google, and other tech companies have denied secretly cooperating with the federal government by allowing unfettered access to their servers as part of the National Security Agency’s PRISM data mining program.
PRISM, the highly classified data gathering operation, was revealed to the public for the first time today after slides from an internal NSA briefing were leaked to the press. This top-secret surveillance initiative tracks internet traffic and communication of a highly varied nature including status, updates, private emails, instant messages, texts, uploaded videos, and much more.
Apple has flat out denied it ever heard of PRISM and added that it doesn’t allow government agencies direct access to its servers and requires a court order before releasing customer information. In a statement, Google insisted that it “does not have a back door” for the feds to access private user data. Similarly, Facebook noted that it does not grant government organizations direct access to its servers, but will disclose data about specific individuals when required by law. Yahoo also asserted that no government agency has any direct access to its servers, systems, or network.
Microsoft, which also owns Skype, said that it only provides individual customer data upon receipt of a court order and never gives up any such data voluntarily.
It also emerged yesterday that the NSA is tracking millions of Verizon customer phone calls to data mine for terrorist and other illegal associations. The difference with that program and PRISM seems to be that in the latter instance, the NSA allegedly is gaining access to the content of the communications. In another report, phone records from A&T and Sprint have also been allegedly gathered as well as credit-card transactions.
The NSA reportedly relies on PRISM for most of its raw intelligence material “accounting for nearly 1 in 7 intelligence reports. That is a remarkable figure in an agency that measures annual intake in the trillions of communications. It is all the more striking because the NSA, whose lawful mission is foreign intelligence, is reaching deep inside the machinery of American companies that host hundreds of millions of American-held accounts on American soil.”
Assuming the press scoops about PRISM are accurate to some degree, do you accept the denials from these tech companies that they are participating in PRISM? More details will likely be forthcoming, but for now, do you think that the PRISM program is violating the privacy of law-abiding Americans?