If Walmart or McDonald’s began describing the Obama Administration as an unconstitutional threat to the privacy of its customers, it would be front page/holy-cow news.
But that’s what is happening in Silicon Valley right now, with America’s biggest tech companies.
The company said it was unaware of the NSA’s hacking program, called “DROPOUTJEEP,” and that it was working to end the breach. But note that Apple’s statement went out of its way to portray the U.S. government as a security threat:
We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who’s behind them.
Apple isn’t alone in its ire against the NSA. Most people think that the major tech companies — Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc. — have been pussycats in terms of the NSA’s domestic surveillance program. In fact there is a bunch of evidence that they hate it, and were unaware of its full extent. Here’s what was said by Microsoft, which has been the most aggressive in publicly expressing its anger about domestic spying, from our coverage earlier this month:
… government snooping potentially now constitutes an ‘advanced persistent threat,’ alongside sophisticated malware and cyber attacks.
We all want to live in a world that is safe and secure, but we also want to live in a country that is protected by the Constitution.
Yes, Microsoft officially regards the NSA — its own government — as an unconstitutional advanced persistent threat. The company has vowed to sue the government over every non-transparent data request it gets.
And most people have forgotten Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s initial reaction to Edward Snowden’s leaks about NSA surveillance:
He said after the news broke in the Guardian and the Washington Post about Prism, the government surveillance programme that targets major internet companies: “The government response was, ‘Oh don’t worry, we’re not spying on any Americans.’ Oh, wonderful: that’s really helpful to companies trying to serve people around the world, and that’s really going to inspire confidence in American internet companies.”
“I thought that was really bad,” he said. Zuckerberg said Facebook and others were pushing successfully for more transparency. “We are not at the end of this. I wish that the government would be more proactive about communicating. We are not psyched that we had to sue in order to get this and we take it very seriously,” he said.
Here’s Apple’s full statement. But as you read it, bear in mind how crazy 2014 is shaping up to be. The most powerful opponents of the NSA are not the American people. (Where are the protests and demonstrations against the greatest domestic spying threat, ever?) They are tech companies with high-priced lawyers:
Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone. Additionally, we have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products. We care deeply about our customers’ privacy and security. Our team is continuously working to make our products even more secure, and we make it easy for customers to keep their software up to date with the latest advancements. Whenever we hear about attempts to undermine Apple’s industry-leading security, we thoroughly investigate and take appropriate steps to protect our customers. We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who’s behind them.
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