FACEBOOK AND MICROSOFT have disputed claims by the NSA that they were well aware of PRISM and complicit with it.
NSA senior lawyer Rajesh De claimed that all of the big US technology firms knew that data was being collected under PRISM. He made the statement at a hearing of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board on Wednesday, the Guardian newspaper reported, and seemed pretty solid in his conviction.
This flies in the face of repeated statements from technology firms, but according to De it is fact. Asked if data collection under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act was carried out with the knowledge and acceptance of technology firms, he said, "Yes".
De was pushed for more details and told the board that data collection under PRISM was a compulsory and acknowledged process.
"PRISM was an internal government term that as the result of leaks became the public term," he said. "Collection under this program was a compulsory legal process...."
Microsoft told us today that PRISM definitely was news to it, and that it is frustrated by suggestions otherwise.
"Before it was reported in the news, we had never heard of 'PRISM' or any [programme] in which internet companies, voluntarily or otherwise, gave the government direct access to servers or in any way facilitated the bulk collection of user data. At the same time, we never suggested that we were not aware of our obligations under FISA, which was the topic of today's hearing," said a spokesman.
"In fact, we have been fighting for more transparency around the lawful national security related requests from the US government that we may receive under this statute. The suggestion that we were misleading the public is frustrating and untrue."
Perhaps in a nod to the joys of data sharing, Facebook has provided us with the same response.
Later, speaking directly to the Guardian, De confirmed this again, saying that anything that happened under section 702 happened in the clear and openly. "All 702 collection is pursuant to court directives, so they have to know," he said. µ