One day after reports of PRISM surfaced — a program which reportedly enables the U.S. government to tap directly into the central servers of U.S.-based Internet companies — U.S. president Barack Obama has announced during a press conference that PRISM “does not apply to U.S. citizens and it does not apply to people living the United States” (source: CNBC).
This response reaffirms earlier reports that PRISM is not targeted towards U.S. citizens, but it does not refute earlier claims that data from U.S. citizens is being collected inadvertently.
During the speech, Obama responded to citizen’s concerns vaguely, and provided little details on how the program actually works. Obama, however, believes the U.S. government has “struck the right balance:”
In the abstract, you can complain about ‘big brother’ and how this is a potential program wrong amok. But when you actually look at the details, I think we’ve struck the right balance.
Speaking in response to the leaks, Obama said he does not welcome them: ”there’s a reason why these programs are classified. I think there’s a suggestion that somehow, any classified program is a quote-unquote secret program which means that it’s somehow suspicious. But the fact of the matter is, in our modern history, there’s been a whole range of programs that have been classified.”
Obama also addressed reports that the United States government has collected a record on every phone call made in the United States:
When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls. That is not what this program is about.
As was indicated, what the intelligence community is doing is, looking at those numbers, and durations of calls. They are not looking at people’s names and they’re not looking at content. But, by sifting through this so-called metadata they may identify potential leads with respect to folks who might engage in terrorism.
This story is continuously evolving. You can visit the links below to learn more about what’s happened thus far:
- Apple, Google, Microsoft and 6 other companies reportedly feeding NSA, FBI info through data sharing pact
- The NSA Slides which leaked the program’s existence
- The leaked slide which contains the dates when Apple, Microsoft, Google, and others joined PRISM
- Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft, AOL, PalTalk, Dropbox and Yahoo deny participation