Surveillance programs like the NSA’s PRISM are “the tip of the iceberg” a US House representative has admitted, claiming she and her fellow lawmakers were “astounded” by the extent of the monitoring when it was explained in a confidential briefing. Representative Loretta Sanchez, a Californian democrat, was one of a number of people told “significantly more” by the National Security Agency about counterterrorism strategy underway in the US at present, The Hill reports, subsequently telling media that even the controversial leaks so far have only grazed what is actually happening.
“What we learned in there,” Sanchez said of the classified intelligence briefing held on Tuesday this week, “is significantly more than what is out in the media today.”
The NSA briefing had been scheduled to outline the true nature of the NSA’s monitoring programs, and the reasons for which the agency believes it to be necessary. It comes on the heels of revelations about PRISM, which whistleblower and former security contractor Edward Snowden exposed earlier this month.
PRISM covers the ways the NSA gains masses of electronic data from companies like Verizon, Google, Apple, and others, and the evolving nature of the link between security services and popularly-used internet services kicked off a spiral of denials and clarifications. Google has been one of the more vocal in the process, loudly denying any “backdoor” into its servers by which the NSA could acquire user information.
Nonetheless, it seems there’s far more that could be revealed, if Representative Sanchez is to be believed. “I think it’s just broader than most people even realize,” she said of the contents of the briefing, “and I think that’s, in one way, what astounded most of us, too.”
Although the hints are there, it remains to be seen whether more news on PRISM-style monitoring will leak out. “I don’t know if there are other leaks,” Sanchez clarified, “if there’s more information somewhere, if somebody else is going to step up.”
Meanwhile, Google and others have petitioned the government for permission to make FISA requests – the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requests for handing over data – public, much in the same way it records other calls for data in its regular Transparence Report.