Former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden said that Gmail is the preferred service of terrorists Sunday.
During an adult education forum at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Hayden said, “Gmail is the preferred Internet service provider of terrorists worldwide.” Gmail isn’t an Internet service provider, so what he probably meant to say is that Gmail is the preferred online service of terrorists.
Hayden added, “I don’t think you’re going to see that in a Google commercial, but it’s free, it’s ubiquitous, so of course it is.”
Hayden also defended Section 702 of the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act, which provides the legal basis for PRISM.
PRISM, the highly classified data gathering operation, was revealed to the public in June. Nine major Internet and social media companies were listed as cooperating with intelligence agencies and programs. These included Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL, and Apple.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckberg denied his company’s involvement in PRISM.
“Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the US or any other government direct access to our servers,” he said. “We have never received a blanket request or court order from any government agency asking for information or metadata in bulk, like the one Verizon reportedly received. And if we did, we would fight it aggressively.”
Michael Hayden also said that the US “could be fairly charged with the militarization of the World Wide Web.” The NSA’s Tactical Access Operations (TAO) is charged with hacking foreign targets to steal data and monitor communications, according to the Washington Post.
“We built it here, and it was quintessentially American,” Hayden said.
“We have a very difficult time with this,” he added. “Is our vision of the World Wide Web the global digital commons — at this point you should see butterflies flying here and soft background meadow-like music — or a global free fire zone?”