Friday, June 07, 2013

Washington Post backs away from implication that tech firms knowingly participated in PRISM

The Washington Post has backed away from initial reports on PRISM, which implied that tech firms "knowingly" participated in the spying program. WaPo's report, first published on Thursday, has been edited to remove wording that pointed in that direction.

The Post's report originally said that nine companies -- Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL and Apple -- ”participate knowingly” in PRISM. However, since the original posting of the investigative report, the phrase ”participate knowingly” has been removed, and a paragraph added that suggests the companies were unaware of PRISM, as most of them have claimed sicne the report first became fodder for privacy advocates:
It is possible that the conflict between the PRISM slides and the company spokesmen is the result of imprecision on the part of the NSA author. In another classified report obtained by The Post, the arrangement is described as allowing “collection managers [to send] content tasking instructions directly to equipment installed at company-controlled locations,” rather than directly to company servers.
The change to the article could mean that instead of directly accessing the data from company servers, the NSA accessed it via third-parties such as ISPs or mobile operators.

Either way, the U.S. government has been quite clear in the matter. It believes that it did nothing illegal, and that all its measures were done to protect U.S. citizens from terrorism or other threats.

On Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama spoke for the first time in the matter. In it, he was quite clear: Congress has been briefed on both the NSA data tappin and the NSA phone tapping (via Verizon Wireless, and likely every major wireless carrier in the U.S.). 

This is despite the fact that U.S. senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) seemed surprised by the revelations on the two programs.

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