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The Code War

NSA Reportedly Collects User Data From Facebook, Yahoo, Apple, And Others

The current secrecy scandal surrounding the National Security Agency's monitoring of U.S. phone calls has now expanded to include Internet monitoring, with some of the biggest names in tech handing over data.

NSA Reportedly Collects User Data From Facebook, Yahoo, Apple, And Others

After the Guardian broke the news that the National Security Agency (NSA) was monitoring details on every single Verizon phone call, the Washington Post released yet more secret information about widespread U.S. Internet surveillance under a program called PRISM.

PRISM allows the NSA to directly get its hands on many different kinds of data concerning the Internet habits of individuals, from email contents to user-specific information. After initial claims were made that firms such as Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Apple, Facebook, Skype and others were willingly handing over data, most of the companies involved denied they were actively participating and some said they had no knowledge of the program.

The director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper, then made a public statement on the matter saying there were inaccuracies in the reporting about the PRISM program. Clapper said it was not designed to spy on Americans—which means its extensive surveillance data is acquired from the rest of the world. But he would not say what the inaccuracies were, leaving many questions unanswered.

The New York Times has published a story about the Guardian journalist behind the leaks, Glenn Greenwald, who lives in Brazil and uses many different kinds of encryption and identity-masking technology to carry out his reporting. "After writing intensely, even obsessively, for years about government surveillance and the prosecution of journalists, Glenn Greenwald has suddenly put himself directly at the intersection of those two issues, and perhaps in the crosshairs of federal prosecutors," the Times says. The New Yorker recently set up an encrypted anonymous digital messaging service to allow sources to send tips to the magazine without being exposed, a tool becoming more and more relevant as the NSA scandal continues to unfold.

New reports say that online activist group Anonymous has released a batch of NSA documents online, all relating to PRISM itself and dating from about 2008—not long after the program began.

[Image: Flickr user Linda Tanner | FF-reworked NSA logo, via Boingboing ]]