The Washington Post Backtracks On Claim Tech Companies ‘Participate Knowingly’ In The NSA's Data Collection

ACLUThe Washington Post has backtracked on its claim that nine major tech firms ‘participate knowingly’ in the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program, Jon Russell of The Next Web reports.

But that doesn’t mean that the dragnet snooping didn’t happen, or that the tech heavyweights didn’t know about it.

On Thursday The Post and The Guardian reported on leaked NSA powerpoint slides that detail an eavesdropping program — dubbed PRISM — based on “legally-compelled collection” of extracting reams of data from Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL and Apple with the “assistance of communications providers in the US.”

The Post article now suggests the firms were unaware of PRISM after Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google denied involvement, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper declassified information about the program to address “inaccuracies.”

PRISM slide crop 001

From Russell:

… the paper’s new stance is a huge admission. For one thing, it adds to the growing claim that the agency instead accessed the information indirectly. In such a case, the most likely method would be via ISPs or mobile operators, but that remains unconfirmed.

Actually, according to investigative reporting and whistleblower testimony, it’s pretty clear that the NSA has bugged every major ISP and mobile provider.

Last year James Bamford of Wired — who wrote the book “The Shadow Factory: The NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America” — reported that the NSA hired a secretive companies linked to Israeli intellgience to establish 10 to 20 wiretapping rooms at key Internet Service Provider (ISP) telecommunication points throughout the country.

In the summer of 2002 AT&T engineer Mark Klein discovered that a special NSA network actively “vacuumed up Internet and phone-call data from ordinary Americans with the cooperation of AT&T,” emphasising that “much of the data sent through AT&T to the NSA was purely domestic.”

NSA whistleblowers William Binney and Thomas Drake corroborated Klein’s assertions: Binney contends that the NSA analyses the information “to be able to monitor what people are doing” and who they are doing it with while Drake maintains that the NSA is using Israeli-made NARUS hardware to “seize and save all personal electronic communications.”

Wednesday night Glenn Greenwald revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) is using the so-called “business records” provision of the Patriot Act to secretly collect telephone records of millions of Americans from Verizon.

Greenwald noted that “previous reporting has suggested the NSA has collected cell records from all major mobile networks,” which was best illustrated by this ACLU infographic graphic illustrating how the NSA intercepts more than a billion electronic records and communications every day.

NSAAn aerial view of the NSA’s $2 billion Utah Data centre in Bluffdale, Utah, where the signas intelligence agency to intercept, store, and analyse reams of foreign and domestic communications.

And there are several indications that tech giants knew that the government was siphoning off data from ISPs. 

In January Google released a transparency report detailing the government’s use of controversial legislation that bypasses judicial approval to access the online information of private citizens.

Also in Januarty privacy advocates urged Microsfot to disclose details about the government’s efforts to access Skype user communications and data.

In May 2011 Microsoft took control of Skype and subsequently expanded its cooperation with U.S. authorities to make online chats and user information more available to authorities.

Given the fact that the CIA’s recently visited tech conference to detail the Agency’s vision for collecting and analysing all of the information people put on the Internet, it would be naïve to think that American tech giants hasn’t know that all their data belongs to NSA.

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