News on the National Security Agency (NSA) snooping over Apple, Facebook and Google has been on everyone’s lips since late last week. The first of the leaks came out on Wednesday night when the Guardian reported that a US secret court has ordered phone company Verizon to hand over millions of records on telephone call metadata to the NSA. The Washington Post reported on Thursday that the NSA and FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading US Internet companies.
The Guardian then revealed classified documents on Friday containing top-sectet information on NSA program PRISM, the program set up in 2007 to help the United States monitor traffic of potential suspects abroad that collects emails, documents, photos and other material for agents to review. The documents state that Prism operated with the assistance of communications providers in the US; AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, PalTalk and Yahoo. The document also states that GCHQ, the UK’s security agency had last year generated 197 intelligence reports from PRISM and had access to PRISM since at least May 2010. The Guardian last night revealed the identity of the former CIA technical worker as the source of the leads about US surveillance programs: Edward Snowden, who is currently employed by defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.
Over the weekend, technology giants have been under pressure as speculation rise on their co-operation with the US spy agencies and as further details emerged. Apple, Facebook and Google have issued strongly worded denials that they had knowingly participated in PRISM. Meanwhile, Mashable look at what the NSA could possibly have found on the internet and Gizmodo at how the NSA logo should really look. Our client Tim Summers from Temple bright adds a legal perspective to the debate: “We must have mechanisms to ensure that governments can be called to account, to ensure that their legal powers are used only for their proper purposes.” Read more on Channel 4 news. We’ll certainly be watching closely for further developments on this news.