Tech

Tech honchos deny involvement in PRISM spy program

By Randell Suba , Jun 09, 2013 07:54 AM EDT
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The leaked documents about the U.S. government's data-mining program called PRISM have rocked the Internet. However, the tech bigwigs have denied the allegations that they allowed the government to have a direct access to their servers.

Aside from issuing official company statements, the tech honchos have univocally denied any involvement with the spy program that allegedly captured data from servers of their companies.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, posted a personal statement on his Facebook page to deny that his company participated in the surveillance program of the National Security Agency.

"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 [June 6]," Zuckerberg explained

"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," he added.

The Facebook CEO also appealed to governments to be more transparent when dealing with computer programs that are intended to keep the public safe.

Likewise, Google's CEO Larry Page reacted by posting a blog Friday titled, "What the...?" that he prepared with David Drummond, the chief legal officer of Google.

"First, we have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government-or any other government-direct access to our servers. Indeed, the U.S. government does not have direct access or a "back door" to the information stored in our data centers. We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday [June 6]," Page emphasized.

"Second, we provide user data to governments only in accordance with the law. Our legal team reviews each and every request, and frequently pushes back when requests are overly broad or don't follow the correct process. Press reports that suggest that Google is providing open-ended access to our users' data are false, period," he reiterated.

However, on June 7, President Barack Obama confirmed that the NSA program exists.

"So in summary, what you've got is two programs that were originally authorized by Congress, have been repeatedly authorized by Congress, bipartisan majorities have approved on them, Congress is continually briefed on how these are conducted," the president explained during his speech.

"There are a whole range of safeguards involved, and federal judges are overseeing the entire program throughout.  We're also setting up -- we've also set up an audit process, when I came into office, to make sure that we're, after the fact, making absolutely certain that all the safeguards are being properly observed," Obama added.

The president also joked that when he returns to private life after his term, he might be on the monitored list, too. He ended his speech by saying, "In the abstract, you can complain about Big Brother, and how this is a potential program run amok, but when you actually look at the details, I think we've struck the right balance."

The news about the NSA's surveillance exploded when the Guardian and The Washington Post received leaked documents about the PRISM program. One document revealed that Verizon received a court order to grant NSA an access to metadata of phone calls of Americans. Another document claimed the data mining program purportedly tapped the servers of the largest tech companies in the United States to intercept valuable intelligence information.

The government is just saying that PRISM has all bases covered when it comes to legalities while the bosses of the tech companies dragged in the issue say that they did not directly give NSA access to their servers.

We're not surprised.

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