Report: NSA Paid Millions to Top Tech Companies for Data

Saturday, 24 Aug 2013 06:06 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Technology firms have earned millions of dollars from the National Security Agency in return for complying with its requests for user data, according to documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden to The Guardian.

Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and Facebook all supply data through a program known as PRISM, reports the newspaper,

The law allows firms to seek government reimbursement for complying with the orders.

Telecommunications companies have long been reimbursed for handing over data related to phone calls and Internet use — and the Snowden documents show tech companies also hand over data on social media accounts.

The Obama administration on Wednesday declassified a ruling, which said the NSA violated the Constitution for three years by collecting communications without adequately protecting users' privacy.

Microsoft acknowledged it bills law enforcement on a case-by-case for its data.

"Microsoft only complies with court orders because it is legally ordered to, not because it is reimbursed for the work,” the company said Friday.

Meanwhile, Yahoo noted that the U.S. government is required to "reimburse providers for costs incurred to respond to compulsory legal process imposed by the government. We have requested reimbursement consistent with this law.”

Facebook and Google both denied receiving compensation for responding to data requests. A Facebook spokeswoman claimed the social network "had never even heard of the so-called PRISM program until it was first reported by news media."

Google also denied joining PRISM or any other government programs.

"We do not provide any government with access to our systems and we provide user data to governments on in accordance with the law," the company said.




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