Talk of virtue and your readers will become bored. Hint of gossip and you will secure perfect attention - Walter Winchell
THE US NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY (NSA) has long been accessing data from the servers of nine major information technology firms including Apple, Microsoft and Google, leaked PRISM slides have revealed.
The leaked document reveals that as well as needing to improve its Powerpoint skills, the NSA has been extracting data from the internal servers of Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, AOL, Yahoo, Skype, Youtube and Paltalk for multiple years. Dropbox apparently is "set to join" PRISM soon.
The programme reportedly was set up by the George W. Bush administration to collect intelligence, and the Washington Post said that members of Congress are fully aware of PRISM.
The data collected - which includes emails, images, chats and videos, amongst other things - is then made available to US government agencies for use in domestic and international investigations, with the leaked document noting that the collected information is especially useful for overseas investigations.
While the leaked PRISM programme seems to suggest that these nine big information technology firms knew of the programme, and were willfully involved, they have been quick to quash this talk.
Apple said it has never heard of the programme, saying in a statement, "We have never heard of PRISM. We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers."
Google flatly denied knowledge of having signed up to the programme too, saying in a 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 'backdoor' into our systems, but Google does not have a 'backdoor' for the government to access private user data."
Facebook was also quick to deny the report, saying in a statement on Thursday, "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."
US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has released a statement saying that the leaked presentation contains numerous inaccuracies, adding that the government is authorized to collect communications data relating to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. µ
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