Google CEO Larry Page and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond wrote a blog post titled “What the??” This was a response to accusations that Google participated in a government surveillance program known as PRISM. President Barack Obama confirmed the existence of the surveillance program today.
“You may be aware of press reports alleging that Internet companies have joined a secret U.S. government program called PRISM to give the National Security Agency direct access to our servers. As Google?s CEO and Chief Legal Officer, we wanted you to have the facts,” said Page and Drummond in the article. “First, we have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government?or any other government?direct access to our servers. Indeed, the U.S. government does not have direct access or a ?back door? to the information stored in our data centers. We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday.”
Page and Drummond said that they provide user data to governments in accordance to the law and their legal team reviews each and every request. Google pushes back when requests are too broad and do not follow the correct process.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also responded to the accusations that his company was part of the scheme. “Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the US or any other government direct access to our servers. We have never received a blanket request or court order from any government agency asking for information or metadata in bulk, like the one Verizon reportedly received. And if we did, we would fight it aggressively. We hadn’t even heard of PRISM before yesterday,” said Zuckerberg.
Several tech firms said that they never heard of PRISM until the Guardian UK contacted them. The document named AOL, Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and PalTalk as participants and highlighted the dates that they allegedly joined. All of these companies denied their involvement.
“The NSA would not have done this surreptitiously, they want the tech companies on their side,” stated director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Jameel Jaffer. “I can’t make sense of their statements at all.”