The United States government defended its PRISM program by providing detailed information on it and explained that it isn’t an undisclosed data collection or mining program. In a recently published government fact sheet the government said that “It is an internal government computer system used to facilitate the government’s statutorily authorized collection of foreign intelligence information from electronic communication service providers under court supervision, as authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.”
The government said that it does not unilaterally gather information on people but does so with the permission of secret courts which are created to facilitate the requests done under FISA.
The fact sheet further states that “The Government cannot target anyone under the court-approved procedures for Section 702 collection unless there is an appropriate, and documented, foreign intelligence purpose for the acquisition (such as for the prevention of terrorism, hostile cyber activities, or nuclear proliferation) and the foreign target is reasonably believed to be outside the United States. We cannot target even foreign persons overseas without a valid foreign intelligence purpose.”
PRISM has gotten a lot of attention lately after it was first leaked out this past week as a top secret U.S. government program that collects data.
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper was forced to declassify some information regarding PRISM to shed more light on the matter and to clear out the misconceptions regarding the program. He claims that it is lawful and necessary. No details on how the data was being gathered were revealed since this may tip off suspicious groups and they may use this to their advantage.
Clapper cited the articles coming from The Guardian and The Washington Post as being released without even knowing the full details of the program. He said that the surveillance activities reported by the two papers are in fact lawful and duly authorized by Congress. The purpose of the surveillance was to thwart possible terrorist threats that may affect the U.S. and its allies.
By revealing some information regarding PRISM, Clapper said that “Not all the inaccuracies can be corrected without further revealing classified information. I have, however, declassified for release the attached details about the recent unauthorized disclosures in hope that it will help dispel some of the myths and add necessary context to what has been published.”