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Companies deny giving out any information to PRISM

world Updated: Jun 08, 2013 22:54 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
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You may have read this already, if you follow Mark Zuckerberg. He hasn’t heard of PRISM, a secretive US internet surveillance programme, he said.

Around the same time, Google CEO Larry Page similarly claimed no knowledge of the programme in a blog suggestively titled “What the ....?” The frustration showed.

They insisted they have not given the US government — or any government — direct access to their servers. But admitted to sharing data whenever the request was lawful.

New York Times reported on Saturday that in a few cases companies created a separate portal — like an online secure room — where they would place data requested by the government.

Facebook and Google were among nine companies whose US - based servers are directly tapped by US intelligence to track foreigners who may pose a national security threat.

The others were Microsoft (Hotmail), Yahoo, Apple, YouTube, Skype, AOL and PalTalk. Most of them reacted earlier trying to distance themselves from the charges.

“Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the US or any other government direct access to our servers,” Zuckerberg wrote in the post to his 18 million followers.

He called “outrageous” newspaper reports that suggested Facebook had allowed government agencies access to its US-based servers for monitoring foreigners.

“We have not joined any program that would give the US government—or any other government—direct access to our servers,” said Page in his blog post. “We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday.”

Authorities on Friday confirmed a secretive internet surveillance programme under which the National Security Agency, through FBI, taps US-based servers of nine internet companies.

US media reports suggest intelligence agencies have real time access to the servers of these companies, under an authorization from US congress and courts. Though both Google and Facebook denied they have given the US government — or any government — free or direct access to their servers, they didn’t deny sharing information.

“We provide user data to governments only in accordance with the law, said Page, adding the company’s legal team reviews each request separately.

And they push back when “are overly broad or don’t follow the correct process”.