The Washington Post today reported that Google, Apple, Facebook, Dropbox, Microsoft, Paltalk, AOL (TechCrunch’s parent company) and Yahoo participated in the so-called PRISM program which provided the NSA with what looks like virtually direct access to their servers and their users’ data.
We have now reached out to all of these companies and so far, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Apple have categorically denied that they are participating. We have not received statements from the other companies yet, but will update this post as we learn more.
These denials are especially odd given that a number of publications, including USA Today, are now citing source that confirm the existence of this program. According to these reports, PRISM is not aimed at U.S. citizens or any person in the United States.
Here is what we got so far:
“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.”
“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. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a backdoor for the government to access private user data.”
Apple gave this the statement to AllThingsD:
“We have never heard of PRISM. We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer data must get a court order.”
“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! takes users’ privacy very seriously. We do not provide the government with direct access to our servers, systems, or network.”
“We’ve seen reports that Dropbox might be asked to participate in a government program called PRISM. We are not part of any such program and remain committed to protecting our users’ privacy.”
The NSA has referred us to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and we are following up with them, too.
We will update this post as we hear from the other companies named in the documents.