'They watch your ideas form as you type': Leaked top-secret documents reveal how U.S. intelligence agencies are tapping directly into servers of Apple, Google and Facebook to spy on their users

The National Security Agency and the FBI have been pulling personal data directly from the main servers of nine top U.S. tech giants as part of a top-secret initiative dubbed PRISM, it was revealed today.

The Washington Post, which broke the news Thursday, reported that for the past six years, U.S. intelligence agencies have been extracting audio, video, photos, e-mails, documents and other information to track people's movements and contacts.

The Silicon Valley companies involved in the PRISM program are Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype, AOL and the lesser known Internet company PalTalk, which has hosted a lot of traffic during the Arab Spring and the on-going Syrian civil war.

Classified: The particulars of the PRISM data-mining program have been outlined in a top-secret PowerPoint presentation for senior intelligence analysts, which ended up being leakedClassified: The particulars of the PRISM data-mining program have been outlined in a top-secret PowerPoint presentation for senior intelligence analysts, which ended up being leaked

Bombshell: NSA and FBI have been extracting audio, video, photos, e-mails, documents and other data from Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype, AOL and PalTalkBombshell: NSA and FBI have been extracting audio, video, photos, e-mails, documents and other data from Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype, AOL and PalTalk

Key source: PRISM has been described by NSA officials 'as the most prolific contributor to the president's Daily Brief,' providing analysts with a wealth of 'raw material' Key source: PRISM has been described by NSA officials 'as the most prolific contributor to the president's Daily Brief,' providing analysts with a wealth of 'raw material'

Participants: This graph shows when each of the nine tech companies joined PRISM, with Apple being the latest addition in October 2012 Participants: This graph shows when each of the nine tech companies joined PRISM, with Apple being the latest addition in October 2012

The cloud-storage service Dropbox was described as 'coming soon' to PRISM.

Twitter, which is known for zealously protecting its users' privacy, is conspicuous in its absence from the list of Internet companies involved in the data-mining program.

PRISM was launched in 2007 with the blessing of special federal judges under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The Post said that several members of the U.S. Congress were made aware of the classified data-gathering program, but were sworn to secrecy.

The particulars of the program have been outlined in a top-secret PowerPoint presentation for senior intelligence analysts, which ended up being leaked to The Post and Britain's The Guardian.

According to The Washington Post, the tech companies are knowingly taking part in PRISM, but The Guardian reported than all nine pleaded ignorance of the program.

In a statement issued by Google, the company said it '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.
Denial: Google released a statement insisting that the company has not created a 'back door' into its system for the government to access its users' private information Denial: Google released a statement insisting that the company has not created a 'back door' into its system for the government to access its users' private information



Microsoft

Apple

Damage control: All nine companies allegedly involved in the spying program, among them Microsoft (left) and Apple (right), have denied knowledge of PRISM



Social media tool: Analysts targeting a potential terrorist or a spy would draw in information from his Facebook account, including his contacts Social media tool: Analysts targeting a potential terrorist or a spy would draw in information from his Facebook account, including his contacts

'From time to time, people allege that we have created a government "back door" into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data.'

Apple Inc on Thursday said it does not provide any government agency with direct access to its servers, denying a key aspect of a Washington Post report.

'We have never heard of PRISM,' Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said. 'We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer data must get a court order.'

Asked whether Apple joined the NSA-FBI data collection program, Apple declined to comment beyond its brief statement.


According to the Post, PRISM has been described by NSA officials 'as the most prolific contributor to the president's Daily Brief' and the 'leading source of raw material.'

As a cryptolific intelligence agency of the U.S. Department of Defense, the NSA is responsible for collecting and analyzing foreign communications and foreign signals intelligence. However, the agency allegedly has been using PRISM to target American Internet companies handling the accounts of domestic users on U.S. soil.

Analysts working for the NSA would reportedly pick out bits and pieces of data using search terms to help them zero in on foreign targets, but it is not unusual for American content to become swept in as well.
Outsider: Twitter, which has a reputation for protecting its users' privacy, was not on the list of Internet companies involved in the data-mining programOutsider: Twitter, which has a reputation for protecting its users' privacy, was not on the list of Internet companies involved in the data-mining program

In practice, if collection managers in the NSA's Special Source Operation Group, which manages PRISM, have suspicion that their target is a foreign national engaged in terrorism or a spy, they move ahead to draw in all the data from the user's Facebook account, email inboxes and outboxes, and Skype conversations, which would often net in information on the suspect's contacts.

The 41-slide PowerPoint presentation outlining PRISM was leaked to the media by a career intelligence officer, which the Post says had 'firsthand experience with these system, and horror at their capabilities.'

The unnamed whistle-blower reportedly said he was driven by the desire to expose the government’s ‘gross intrusion on privacy.'

'They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,' the officer said.

Spying: The NSA has been getting millions of phone records from Verizon on a daily basis for months without any justification for the order, that was only revealed todaySpying: The NSA has been getting millions of phone records from Verizon on a daily basis for months without any justification for the order, that was only revealed today

Double bind: Part of the order mandated that Verizon not tell its' customer's about the record transfer nor could they admit that the order existedDouble bind: Part of the order mandated that Verizon not tell its' customer's about the record transfer nor could they admit that the order existed

The bombshell allegations come one day after it was revealed that the NSA has been collecting telephone records of millions of U.S. Verizon customers.

The Obama administration defended the order on Thursday, calling it 'a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats.'
  1. 2013/06/07(金) 12:24:45|
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