Government offered millions to tech companies in exchange for unlimited consumer data access
August 23, 2013
As recently as this past June, eight U.S. tech companies denied their involvement and/or participation in the National Security Agency’s (NSA) data-mining program, known as PRISM.
Tech Crunch reported that Google, Apple, Facebook, Dropbox, Microsoft, Paltalk, AOL and Yahoo have all “categorically denied” their participation in the tyrannical NSA program.
According to a new RT report, documents leaked to the Guardian newspaper revealed that not only did some of the tech companies participate, but they were paid millions to do so.
On Friday the Guardian published “new documentation attributed to former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden in which it’s suggested that the US National Security Agency spent millions of dollars making sure the biggest names on the Internet were kept compliant with an international surveillance program disclosed by the leaker earlier this year,” reported RT.
The exposed material suggests the NSA spent millions “ensuring Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook were able to share information sent over the Web with the federal government.”
When Facebook was questioned regarding their involvement in PRISM in June, they gave the following response:
“We do not provide any government organization with direct access to Facebook servers. When Facebook is asked for data or information about specific individuals, we carefully scrutinize any such request for compliance with all applicable laws, and provide information only to the extent required by law.”
Click here for a complete list of tech giant denials.
A day later, the White House confirmed that U.S. intelligence agencies did in fact have “access to data held by Facebook, Google, Apple and other web giants for nearly six years in a bid to ward off threats to national security,” reported The Week.
The Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill said, “The material provides the first evidence of a financial relationship between the tech companies and the NSA.”
Despite a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruling the program’s domestic data-mining unconstitutional and a blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment, a NSA newsletter admits it “spent millions to keep tech companies cooperating.”
Special Source Operations, a unit of the NSA, “handles surveillance programs such as PRISM, in which telecommunication companies and Internet providers sign-on to ‘corporate partnerships’ with Uncle Sam,” revealed the classified documents.
Yahoo, who initially denied PRISM involvement said:
“Yahoo! takes users’ privacy very seriously. We do not provide the government with direct access to our servers, systems, or network.”
In regards to the latest disclosure, Yahoo told the Guardian:
“Federal law requires the US government to reimburse providers for costs incurred to respond to compulsory legal process imposed by the government. We have requested reimbursement consistent with this law.”
In June Google defended themselves and their stance on privacy through the following statement:
“Google cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a backdoor for the government to access private user data.”
Now the tech company says, “We await the US government’s response to our petition to publish more national security request data, which will show that our compliance with American national security laws falls far short of the wild claims still being made in the press today.”
Google clearly went from denial to downplaying their relationship with the NSA spy program.
Verizon Wireless is another example of a corporation in bed with the government. In May, the cellphone giant denied media reports that it had a contract with the NSA that provided customer data to the government, reported CNN Money.
Verizon’s statement read, “One of the most glaring and repeated falsehoods in the media reporting is the assertion that, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Verizon was approached by NSA and entered into an arrangement to provide the NSA with data from its customers’ domestic calls.”
The company said they were “not asked by the government agency to provide, nor did Verizon give out, customer phone records from any of its businesses, or any customer call data.”
Just four months later Verizon announced their willingness to “give the federal government unfettered access to its customers’ phone records,” in exchange for a 10-year $10 billion contract,” reported the New American.
Verizon is just one of ten companies expected to participate. The latest admission projects even more transparency on the “buddy-buddy relationship with departments of the federal government.”
While proof of the government’s domestic spy program is now unavoidable, the President continues to lead the way when it comes to deceiving unsuspecting Americans. On a recent Jay Leno appearance, the President denies that a domestic spy program even exists.
It’s no wonder participating corporations practice the same tactless deceit.