On the heels of a report that the FBI has been routinely collecting phone logs come more revelations about the NSA, FBI and British Intelligence collecting data from Internet companies. The PRISM program claims to be able to collect data directly from Internet servers belonging to Google, Apple, Facebook and several other Internet companies.
The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill broke the story, writing, “The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian. The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called PRISM, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.”
The Washington Post’s Barton Gellman and Laura Poitras reported, “The program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. It may be the first of its kind. The NSA prides itself on stealing secrets and breaking codes, and it is accustomed to corporate partnerships that help it divert data traffic or sidestep barriers. But there has never been a Google or Facebook before, and it is unlikely that there are richer troves of valuable intelligence than the ones in Silicon Valley. Equally unusual is the way the NSA extracts what it wants, according to the document: ‘Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.'”
All Things D’s Liz Gannes noted, “A seemingly incompatible perspective on the reports from the Washington Post and the Guardian today that the U.S. National Security Agency has for six years been operating a project called PRISM — for which Internet companies provide massive amounts of online user data crucial to intelligence operations — is that of the Internet companies themselves. They say they’ve never heard of it.”
According to Bloomberg Businessweek’s Mike Dorning and Chris Strohm, “The Obama administration confirmed the existence of a classified U.S. government program that gathers data on foreign nationals from Internet companies, defending the effort as legally authorized and essential to thwarting terrorist attacks…. ‘Everybody should just calm down,’ Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said at a news conference in Washington. ‘It’s a program that’s worked to prevent not all terrorism but certainly a vast majority of it.'”