Tech giants in the US were not as innocent, or at least not as ignorant, as they claim. This was the revelation dropped by NSA general counsel Rajesh De appearing before the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board this Wednesday.
When word of PRISM and other NSA data collecting activities came to light last year, in no small part thanks to Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing, companies whose names were dragged into the fire naturally tried to wash their hands clean. Some even denied hearing about anything called PRISM.
De, however, says that the companies knew full well what the NSA was doing. They might have not have heard of the name PRISM because it was an internal name only. They were, however, aware of the NSA’s programs and actually cooperated fully. After all, they really had not much choice since they were legally compelled to comply anyway.
The details on how the government is able to legally force a company to comply are still a bit unclear. All that is known, at least based on Snowden’s leaks, is that the NSA has “unmediated access” to company data. The NSA collected data from two sources, directly from companies as well as those traveling across the Internet, the so-called “upstream” collection. The NSA is even able to gather data from data centers abroad using a legal excuse different from the FISA Section 702 normally cited to have given the NSA its extraordinary reach, much to the chagrin of the likes of Google and Yahoo, of course.
President Obama might have tried to mitigate the effects of the NSA fiasco, but the agency isn’t backing down from claiming that it is standing on firm legal ground. That said, De’s latest statement might further antagonize tech companies against the NSA which ironically relies on them for their necessary data collection.
VIA: The Guardian