They Were Lying - Top NSA Lawyer Says Tech Giants Provided 'Full Assistance' in Domestic Spying Program20/03/2014 21:14
NSA general counsel Rajesh De says Yahoo, Google and Facebook were not only aware of the NSA's surveillance program, but in fact they provided ‘full assistance’ in the collection of data.
If there were any remaining doubts regarding Silicon Valleys involvement in the NSA's domestic spying program, statements made Wednesday by the NSA's top lawyer, Rajesh De in a hearing of the U.S. government's institutional privacy watchdog put those to rest. His testimony also confirmed the suspicions of many reporters that the denials made by Facebook and Google had been carefully worded in order to conceal the truth about their role in the program while still leaving themselves room to backpedal.
Both Apple and Facebook had released almost identical statements in response to the NSA scandal, both specifically stated that they didn't give the NSA direct access to their servers and that they had never heard of PRISM until a day before. According to Rajesh De this is technically true. PRISM was an internal name for the program, it was never mentioned to the actual participants, however he clarifies that each of the companies involved were aware of what was going on and provided "full assistance". De added that service providers also knew that the NSA was harvesting communications data not from companies but directly in transit. This too confirms our assessment of the tech company denials we made in our March 18th article on the topic. Facebook, Google, Apple and Yahoo didn't have to give the NSA access to their servers at all since the communications were being intercepted in transit.
Though these companies are obviously still attempting to hide the truth here, the information that was leaked regarding Microsoft's cooperation with the program gives a pretty good idea what this "full assistance" might have entailed. Microsoft assisted the NSA by helping develop a way for them to bypass the encryption of the audio and video calls made on Skype. Google, Apple and Facebook likely cooperated in a similar way, by making it easier for government agencies to interpret user data as it passed through collection centers like the one that was exposed at AT&T.
To know the technical specifics we would need to either have a full investigation, or a leak from one of the employees involved. So far though, all we've seen coming out of these companies are denials and public relations stunts. You have to wonder if this revelation by the NSA was prompted by these public relations theatrics the tech companies have been engaged in. Both Facebook and Google have been attacking the NSA in recent weeks in an attempt to repair their sullied reputations. They seemed to be operating under the assumption that the U.S. government was determined to keep its mouth shut, but it appears they were wrong. Is it just a coincidence that this statement by Rajesh De was made on the very same day that Google CEO Larry Page gave a TED interview in which he condemned the NSA's activities, claiming that they "threatened democracy"? Maybe somebody in the NSA wanted to teach these hypocrites a lesson.