Report: 9 Internet Firms Giving Data to Government

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Thursday, 06 Jun 2013 06:53 PM

By Greg Richter

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It's not just your cell phone calls. Nine Internet companies have been giving your emails, videos, photos and more to the NSA and FBI, The Washington Post reports.

The classified program PRISM began in 2007 and has signed on Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple. Cloud storage website Dropbox is set to join soon.

PRISM has become the biggest contributor to President Barack Obama's Daily Brief, the Post reports, with a total of 1,447 articles in 2012. One in seven intelligence reports are based on PRISM data.

The program descends from a program in the 1970s in which 100 American companies worked with the government, though PRISM is more like the controversial warrantless surveillance efforts undertaken after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

PRISM attempts to use formulas to avoid gathering data from Americans, but the system isn't perfect. And while compliance by the companies is voluntary, the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Court can force compliance.

Apple resisted participation for five years, and Twitter has never joined.

The Post said it obtained information on the program from a career intelligence officer who believes the program is a serious invasion of privacy.

"They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type," the officer told the Post.

Reuters reports that both Apple and Facebook deny knowing anything about the PRISM program and say they do not allow any government agency "direct access" to their servers.





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