The Washington’s Post claim that the FBI and National Security Agency are “tapping directly into the central servers” of the country’s biggest technology companies to spy on their users continues to fall apart.
Most of the major companies have now explicitly denied participating in such a program. Apple, Facebook, and Google have denied all knowledge of it.
An hour ago, Google CEO Larry Page published a blog post blasting the very idea that Google would do this.
I want to respond personally to the outrageous press reports about 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. 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. We hadn’t even heard of PRISM before yesterday.
When governments ask Facebook for data, we review each request carefully to make sure they always follow the correct processes and all applicable laws, and then only provide the information if is required by law. We will continue fighting aggressively to keep your information safe and secure.
We strongly encourage all governments to be much more transparent about all programs aimed at keeping the public safe. It’s the only way to protect everyone’s civil liberties and create the safe and free society we all want over the long term.
sceptics continue to parse the wording of these denials, looking for ways to reconcile the companies’ denials with the Washington Post story.
Importantly, however, these denials are explicit, vehement, and detailed, and they do not leave much room for parsing (except by diehard conspiracy theorists).
The U.S. government clearly has a major intelligence program dedicated to collecting and analysing Internet-based communications. But the assertion that the country’s biggest Internet companies are voluntarily giving the government direct open access to their user data in real-time looks increasingly like bunk.
The Washington Post has also changed and hedged its original story.
Now the “direct access” claim is just attributed to a government document that, at least on this score, many people believe is inaccurate.
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