NSA taps in to Internet giants’ systems to mine user data, secret files reveal

June 6, 2013

UPDATE June 9, 2013: Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelationsThe Guardian, June 9, 2013

The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other U.S. Internet giants, according to a top secret document, dated April 2013, obtained by the Guardian.

UPDATE June 8, 2013: “Sources challenge reports alleging National Security Agency is ‘tapping directly into the central servers.’ Instead, they say, the spy agency is obtaining orders under process created by Congress.” — CNET June 7, 2013. 

The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called PRISM, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.

The document claims “collection directly from the servers” of major U.S. service providers.

UPDATE June 8, 2013: “All nine [companies mentioned] of them have explicitly denied that the government has “direct access” to their servers. .” — CNET, June 7, 2013 (separate article)

Disclosure of the PRISM program follows a leak to the Guardian on Wednesday of a top-secret court order compelling telecom provider Verizon to turn over the telephone records of millions of U.S. customers.

The revelation also supports concerns raised by several U.S. senators during the renewal of the Fisa Amendments Act in December 2012, who warned about the scale of surveillance the law might enable, and shortcomings in the safeguards it introduces. … The presentation claims PRISM was introduced to overcome what the NSA regarded as shortcomings of Fisa warrants in tracking suspected foreign terrorists.

The NSA document indicates that it is planning to add Dropbox as a PRISM provider.

SOURCE: excerpts of a June 6, 2013 article by the Guardian.