I feel like I just took a body blow, reading this terrifying report from the Washington Post that published last night. The paper has learned of a government program, jointly operated the FBI and NSA, which spies on literally everything posted online via 9 major internet companies, who are compliant . Those companies? Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple.
The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post.
The program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. It may be the first of its kind. The NSA prides itself on stealing secrets and breaking codes, and it is accustomed to corporate partnerships that help it divert data traffic or sidestep barriers. But there has never been a Google or Facebook before, and it is unlikely that there are richer troves of valuable intelligence than the ones in Silicon Valley.
Equally unusual is the way the NSA extracts what it wants, according to the document: “Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.”
You can see a full slide show, created internally by the NSA that details the entire operation here.
Naturally, these companies are denying involvement – though that would be expected, so we can’t really take anything at face value here, as it this whole thing is a massive black eye on both sides. It’s possible that the government has gone around the management to install tracking software into the mainframe hardware at these companies and into the servers themselves (remember the Obama Administration wanted a “backdoor” entrance to everything?), but in my opinion that is highly unlikely and it’s far more plausible that these companies were complicit in these actions of government, which started in 2007 under Bush with Microsoft.
I really encourage everyone to read the entire Wash Post report. It’s beyond disturbing.
If there is one promise that Obama has upheld during his presidency, it’s his promise about this being “the most transparent administration in history.” We just didn’t realize that it was our transparency to government surveillance that he was referring to.
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