Thursday, June 6, 2013

N.S.A. Said to Have Collected Data From Internet Firms

June 6, 2013

N.S.A. Said to Have Collected Data From Internet Firms

The federal government appears to have been secretly tapping the nation’s largest Internet companies going back nearly six years — including Google, Facebook and, most recently, Apple — according to documents that emerged on Thursday even as officials confirmed they had been compiling a vast library of Americans’ phone call records in the fight against terrorism.
While the data provided varies according to the online provider, it could include e-mail, chat services, videos, photos, stored data, file transfers, video conferencing, and logins — according to a presentation describing the highly classified National Security Agency program dubbed PRISM.
The documents also said that “special requests” for information were available. The New York Times has not confirmed the authenticity of the documents, and several of the Internet companies issued statements strongly denying knowledge of or participation in the program. The White House made no immediate comment.
But the disclosure of the documents by American and British newspapers came just hours after government officials acknowledged a separate seven-year effort to sweep up records of telephone calls inside the United States. Together, the unfolding disclosures opened an extraordinary window into the growth of government surveillance that began under the Bush administration after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and has clearly been embraced and even expanded under the Obama administration.
The extraordinary revelations, in rapid succession, also suggested that someone with access to high-level intelligence secrets had decided to unveil them in the midst of furor over leak investigations. Both were reported by Britain’s Guardian newspaper, while The Washington Post, relying upon the same presentation, simultaneously reported the Internet company tapping. The Post said a disenchanted intelligence official provided it with the documents to expose government overreach.
Before the disclosure of the alleged Internet company surveillance program late Thursday, the White House and Congressional leaders defended the phone program, saying it was legal and necessary to protect national security.
Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman, told reporters aboard Air Force One that the kind of surveillance at issue “has been a critical tool in protecting the nation from terror threats as it allows counterterrorism personnel to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located inside the United States.” He added: “The president welcomes a discussion of the tradeoffs between security and civil liberties.”
The Guardian and The Post posted several slides from the 41-page presentation about the Internet program, listing the companies involved — which included Yahoo, Microsoft, Paytalk, AOL, Skype and YouTube — and the dates they joined the program, as well as listing the types of information collected under the program.
The N.S.A. and other government agencies declined to comment about the disclosure, which appeared to create consternation among intelligence officials.


  1. RT: Christopher Hayes ‏@chrislhayes
    I'm *truly* fascinated by the backstory of the WaPo/Guardian simultaneous scoop on the PRISM program.

  2. RT: Lawrence O'Donnell ‏@Lawrence
    How many companies do you use that NSA is monitoring? Verizon AOL Google Apple. I use them all. @TheLastWord at 10pm

  3. "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.

    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."

  4. Karl ‏@tickerguy
    RT @AP: BREAKING: Intelligence director: NSA court order leak 'reprehensible,' could irreversibly harm security [To Director: Go F Yourself]