Shortly after reports of PRISM surfaced — a program which reportedly enables the US government to tap directly into the central servers of US-based Internet companies — all of the major companies involved have denied involvement.
According to the Washington Post, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, AOL and PalTalk are all knowing participants of PRISM. Dropbox is reportedly expected to join soon. In direct contrast to this report, however, Apple, Yahoo, Dropbox, Google, Microsoft, AOL, Dropbox, PalTalk and Facebook have provided statements claiming they are not participants.
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Facebook has confirmed to TNW that it does not provide the US government with direct access to its servers.
We do not provide any government organization with direct access to Facebook servers. When Facebook is asked for data or information about specific individuals, we carefully scrutinize any such request for compliance with all applicable laws, and provide information only to the extent required by law.
Shortly after we received this confirmation, Apple told CNBC that it has “never heard of PRISM.” In addition, the company claims it does not “provide any government agency with direct access to [its] servers.”
Google has confirmed with TNW by phone that it does not know about this program and that it isn’t participating in it in any way. The company tells us that “Google does not have a ‘back door’ for the government to access private user data.”
Following speculation that the above companies are playing ignorant in regards to the program name or that they could be providing API access, Google has confirmed with TNW that it isn’t participating in a similar program with a different name and that it isn’t providing a special API to the government.
More from Google:
Google cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully.
Microsoft has released an official statement, claiming the following:
We provide customer data only when we receive a legally binding order or subpoena to do so, and never on a voluntary basis. In addition we only ever comply with orders for requests about specific accounts or identifiers. If the government has a broader voluntary national security program to gather customer data we don’t participate in it.
Yahoo provided a similar statement:
Yahoo! takes users’ privacy very seriously. We do not provide the government with direct access to our servers, systems, or network.
Dropbox has denied involvement as well, stating the following: “we are not part of any such program and remain committed to protecting our users’ privacy.”
AOL has provided TNW with the following denial:
We do not have any knowledge of the Prism program. We do not disclose user information to government agencies without a court order, subpoena or formal legal process, nor do we provide any government agency with access to our servers.
And finally, PalTalk shares that it has “not heard of PRISM.”
Despite these denials it is important to consider that the NSA would not have released details of the program name to Internet companies, as ACLU analyst Christopher Soghoian points out. Furthermore, those who receive national security letters are prevented from discussing their existence by law.
- 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
Top image credit: Thinkstock
Updates: On June 7 at noon ET, two additional companies came forward and the text was amended.