A new report claims that the National Security Agency and the FBI are collecting information on people by tapping on the servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies. Audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs are extracted which enables analysts to track the movement of a particular person.
This top secret program of the government which is called PRISM was established in 2007 and counts Microsoft as its first partner. Today, companies such as Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple are part of the program. This program allows the attorney general and the director of national intelligence to collect data without the need of a warrant. The companies involved are provided immunity from lawsuits resulting to this.
PRISM was approved by a special court order under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Some members of Congress knew about this but were bound by oath not to disclose it to the public.
A presentation regarding the program which is intended for senior analysts of the NSA showed that this was the most prolific contributor to the President’s Daily Brief. It showed that the agency relied heavily on PRISM and that nearly one out of seven intelligence reports come from it.
PRISM appears to resemble the warrantless surveillance activities of the government issued by President Bush during the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. This time though the government has full access to whatever information they want to get.
This information was revealed by a career officer who said that the government can literally watch your ideas form as you type it.
Apple and Facebook who are both listed as companies helping the program have denied their involvement. Apple said that they have never heard of it while Facebook said that they have provided any government organization with access to their servers. Google on the other hand commented that their servers don’t have a back door for the government to access personal data.