More information was revealed today about how the National Security Agency (NSA) obtained information about U.S. private citizens. According to The Washington Post, leaked court documents show that the NSA paid tech companies like Google and Facebook millions of dollars to participate in their PRISM surveillance program.
Many of the NSA’s surveillance tactics were found to be unconstitutional by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The companies who were involved included Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Facebook, all of which received payment for their cooperation with surveillance requests. A Yahoo spokesperson confirmed as much, saying the following:
Federal law requires the US government to reimburse providers for costs incurred to respond to compulsory legal process imposed by the government. We have requested reimbursement consistent with this law.
However, the Washington Post received word from Facebook this afternoon somewhat contradicting Yahoo’s statement:
Facebook has never received any compensation in connection with responding to a government data request
When news first broke that the NSA stored tens of thousands of emails a year unlawfully, people were outraged. Understandably so. Questions as to whether or not this incentivizes the distribution of private information arose. Still, one thing we haven’t seen mentioned yet is how low the price tag was on private citizen info.
Millions in cash for emails might seem like a lot of money but to the NSA and these huge companies, it’s chump change. Since the companies weren’t forced into divulging info and instead gave it up for a price, it makes us wonder, what is our private information really worth?