Mark Zuckerberg Continues To Deny Involvement In Prism; Facebook, Google Ask Attorney General To Allow Them To Disclose Number Of Secret Data Requests

By David Cohen 

Facebook continued to take steps to deny any involvement in the National Security Agency’s Prism initiative, in which the government agency allegedly obtained direct access to its servers, with Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg reiterating his denial of last Friday during his talk at the social network’s annual meeting Tuesday, and the company asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to allow it to fully disclose the total number of secret requests it receives to surrender user data.

Zuckerberg posted the following status update on his Facebook page Friday:

Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the U.S. or any other government direct access to our servers. We have never received a blanket request or court order from any government agency asking for information or metadata in bulk, like the one Verizon reportedly received. And if we did, we would fight it aggressively. We hadn’t even heard of Prism before yesterday.

When governments ask Facebook for data, we review each request carefully to make sure they always follow the correct processes and all applicable laws, and then only provide the information if it is required by law. We will continue fighting aggressively to keep your information safe and secure.

We strongly encourage all governments to be much more transparent about all programs aimed at keeping the public safe. It’s the only way to protect everyone’s civil liberties and create the safe and free society we all want over the long term.

And at the annual meeting Tuesday, he added:

We don’t work directly with the NSA, or with any other program, nor do we proactively give user information to anyone, nor has anyone approached us to do that.

Later Tuesday, The Guardian reported that Facebook and Google both contacted Holder over the issue, with former Facebook General Counsel Ted Ullyot saying in a statement:

Facebook would welcome the opportunity to provide a transparency report that allows us to share with those who use Facebook around the world a complete picture of the government requests we receive, and how we respond.

We urge the U.S. government to help make that possible by allowing companies to include information about the size and scope of national security requests we receive, and we look forward to publishing a report that includes that information.

Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond said in a letter to Holder, as reported by The Guardian:

We therefore ask you to help make it possible for Google to publish in our transparency report aggregate numbers of national security requests, including Fisa (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) disclosures, in terms of both the number we receive and their scope.

Google’s numbers would clearly show that our compliance with these requests falls far short of the claims being made. Google has nothing to hide.

The Guardian reported last Thursday that it obtained a top-secret document indicating that the NSA obtained direct access to the servers of Internet companies including Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, PalTalk, Skype, and AOL.

Readers: Did the reports on Prism make you lose trust in any websites you frequent?

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