NSA Lawyer: Major Tech Companies Knew About Data Gathering

Wednesday, 19 Mar 2014 08:56 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and other big technology companies knew the National Security Agency was collecting data from them, according to the spy agency's top lawyer.

The assertion by Rajesh De contradicts denials from the tech giants, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

De, testifying before the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, said the data swept up by the spy agency happened with the companies' knowledge – including for the controversial PRISM internet collection program, The Guardian reported.

PRISM was one of the first revelations to come out of the documents leaked by ex-spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.

As reported by The Guardian, nearly all the companies listed as participating in the PRISM program – Yahoo, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and AOL – claimed they didn't known about the practice, and Apple said it had "never heard" the term PRISM.

But De said the program name "was an internal government term that, as the result of leaks, became the public term,” the newspaper reported. " Collection under this program was a compulsory legal process, that any recipient company would receive." 

The legal basis for the collection stems from Section 702 of a 2008 law that lets the spy agency collect phone, email, internet and other communications content when one party is believed to be a non-American outside the United States.

Snowden, in a talk via satellite robot at the 2014 Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conference in Vancouver Tuesday, said "the provenance of data is directly from their servers," but "it doesn’t mean that there’s a group of company reps sitting in a smoky room, palling around with the NSA and making back-room deals to give stuff away,"

Mashable reported, "When we talk about this information and how it’s given, it’s given by the companies themselves, it’s not stolen."


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