When government officials came to Silicon Valley to demand easier ways for the world’s largest Internet companies to turn over user data as part of a secret surveillance program, the companies bristled. In the end, though, many cooperated at least a bit.

Twitter declined to make it easier for the government. But other companies were more compliant, according to people briefed on the negotiations. They opened discussions with national security officials about developing technical methods to more efficiently and securely share the personal data of foreign users in response to lawful government requests. And in some cases, they changed their computer systems to do so.

The negotiations shed a light on how Internet companies, increasingly at the center of people’s personal lives, interact with the spy agencies that look to their vast trove of information — e-mails, videos, online chats, photos and search queries — for intelligence. They illustrate how intricately the government and tech companies work together, and the depth of their behind-the-scenes transactions.

The companies that negotiated with the government include Google, which owns YouTube; Microsoft, which owns Hotmail and Skype; Yahoo; Facebook; AOL; Apple; and Paltalk, according to one of the people briefed on the discussions. The companies were legally required to share the data under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. People briefed on the discussions spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are prohibited by law from discussing the content of FISA requests or even acknowledging their existence…

While handing over data in response to a legitimate FISA request is a legal requirement, making it easier for the government to get the information is not, which is why Twitter could decline to do so…

Twitter spokesmen did not respond to questions about the government requests, but said in general of the company’s philosophy toward information requests: Users “have a right to fight invalid government requests, and we stand with them in that fight.”

Yet since tech companies’ cooperation with the government was revealed Thursday, tech executives have been performing a familiar dance, expressing outrage at the extent of the government’s power to access personal data and calling for more transparency, while at the same time heaping praise upon the president as he visited Silicon Valley.

RTFA for more details on how our government is “protecting” us by keeping a watchful eye on us. It still stinks on ice!

  1. dusanmal says:

    Corporations are not the problem. Fundamental problem is that the BigGovernment have been (one can easily claim in an unconstitutional manner) permitted to even ask for these in a “shortcut” manner and to have enough power to intimidate (rtecent IRS, EPA, even FBI examples) corporate world into “public-private partnership” fascism even beyond these draconian privacy breaches.
    This is Nazi Germany of 1930’s equivalent. Cutting edge industry at that time was in machinery. Now it is the Internet and communications. And attacks here and now on non-Progressives are mirroring early Nazi pressure on Jews… Just much more insidious, using 1984 script now.

  2. noname says:

    Americas only hope is this will inform how people vote!

    Will people continue vote for committed representatives of CIA, FBI, NSA, DOD, Wall Street, Banks, Fox News … -OR- will people vote for representatives of the middle class?

    Will CIA, FBI, NSA, DOD, Wall Street, Banks, …. continue to cloak in themselves in National Security to obscure, obstruct and defraud the American their public right to know the truth and continue their successful scare the public campaign to retain power and draw more tax dollars …. Stay tuned kids, same bat-time, same bat-channel!

    And where is ObamaBush in all this…

    • deegee says:

      “will people vote for representatives of the middle class”

      You are assuming that there are politicians who can be voted in who are representatives of the commoners, and not on the payroll of the corporate/rich.

      You may find one or two politicians who represent their constituents at the bottom levels (municipal).
      But finding any on the state or federal level is going to be near impossible.

    • deowll says:

      A lot of people seem willing to shrug it off.

      Will they continue to vote for the people that caused their insurance bills to go up $200 a month or more? We’ll see but I think even the most devote will say ouch over that one.

  3. McCullough says:

    AOL? Seriously….they must be getting desperate. How about CompuServe, or Prodigy???


  4. god says:

    Google is still deny, deny, deny.

    AOL probably volunteered because they didn’t want to be left out.

  5. Uncle Patso says:

    You think this is repression?

    Man, you ain’t seen repression.

    May I suggest reading up about Stalin, Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Mao.

    Vladimir Putin has more repression in his little finger than the entire United States government has in its entire body.

    Some random examples of repression:

    – Churches forced to close; clerics imprisoned, deported, executed

    – Artists, teachers, even government officials imprisoned, banished, even executed for their political beliefs (cf Pussy Riot, Salman Rushdie)

    • Brian says:

      You can’t really compare what goes on in other countries with what happens in the US when it comes to certain topics. We haven’t had to deal with stalinist or other regimes so we can’t and shouldn’t use them as a frame of reference for our decision making and processes related. It doesn’t equate because we have a different way of life here. That is no different than people running around saying they want a better way of life for their children then bitching when they use ipads at a rally and saying they are spoiled.

      • Mextli says:

        “You can’t really compare what goes on in other countries with what happens in the US when it comes to certain topics.”

        I agree except I think that applies to just about all topics.

        I think you CAN say that the machinery is in place and it would be all too easy for the US to have that type of regime under the guise of safety.

    • noname says:

      ok, and your point is citizens shouldn’t care because the relative “evil” of dismantling Americas bill of rights and trampling on Americans rights (whereas in the past Americans would be up in arms) because:

      Congress is still very desperate to convince Americans Cheney’s pretext for two wars, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 225,000 people and cost at least $3.7 trillion was a good investment instead of sending in countries the Bad-Ass, Seal Team 6 to neutralize Osama Bin Bin Laden and others.

      Since Cheney said After 9/11, “the gloves come off” and the “Patriot Act” is needed to militarize and expand police powers and start another inefficient bureaucracy “Department of Homeland Security”…

      When does it end?

  6. dadeo says:

    Nice touch with the eyeballs in the graphic.

  7. jpfitz says:

    In the digital world expect no privacy.

    “As thinking and writing increasingly take place in cyberspace, the part of our life that can be monitored and searched has vastly expanded.On the Internet, every website we visit, every store we browse in, every magazine we skim, and the amount of time we spend skimming it, create electronic footprints that can be traced back to us,” “writes Jeffrey Rosen, in his book on the destruction of privacy, The Unwanted Gaze.”


  8. sargasso_c says:

    People do take their freedom seriously. They care to stop unwarranted invasion of their homes, their bedrooms and their prayers. A state which builds windows into the hearts of men is a terrifying prospect.

  9. msbpodcast says:

    We’re just at the embarrassing stage of democracy where everything, and I do mean everything, is open to scrutiny.

    Our politicians (1%ers all) aren’t going to like the scrutiny any more than we 99%ers. In fact they’re going to like it less because there will be far more opportunities for finding out all kinds of crap about everybody.

    Either we step backward, like the eight century that the islamists are so fond of, or we step forward and drop the pretense of privacy.

    Might I suggest that we learn to live in a world where we daren’t do anything we’re ashamed of, or that we just give up on being ashamed of anything we do.

    Being one of the 99%ers, and harboring no illusions about my ever becoming one of the 1%ers, I have reached the age and the stage in life where I simply don’t give a shit.

    • Captain Obvious says:

      I assume surveillance cameras in your home are OK? After all, you’re not doing anything wrong.

      • deowll says:

        He’d turn around and moon the camera. Why not? After a certain age you wear cloths to protect others rather than your own modesty. Even you don’t want to look at yourself in the mirror.

        I pity the wretch that gets stuck with watching me should such a thing occur. The people that work in nursing homes have to have strong stomachs.

        Still, I do object and would like to break wind in their face. I make a point in wearing cloths when I go out and if I don’t make something public information as here then they should at least have to get a valid warrant from a judge to play proctologist and look at what wasn’t meant for public display.

        If I post it on line as here everyone does have a right to look at it.

  10. Dallas says:

    If this is shocking news to you, you’re in the right forum for bootcamp.

  11. MikeN says:

    The tech companies are denying involvement with PRISM. Now this can be interpreted as what you would expect, except the same Powerpoint that lists the companies’ names, says the total budget is $20 million. From the administration that brought us ObamaCare, you think they can manage this for $20 million? Maybe Mark Perkel could do it, but the whistleblower had a salary of $200k by himself.

    • deowll says:

      We know billions are being spend on data storage and processing centers however they may be able to hire somebody to scrap the web for $20 million a year. The government may be using the same scrapped data as companies wanting to target you with adds.

  12. ± says:

    Holy crap! All the apologists for this in here are exactly the same people who would be screaming for blood if Rmoney was in charge when this happened.



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