With the excuse of terror attacks the US government pretends to get away with murder. This goes in reference with the latest news that the US government has been caught spying on citizens through data collection from Facebook, Apple and Google.
Government Tactics Raise Privacy Concerns
Are George W. Bush and Barack Obama so different? It seems that with regard for the respect of citizens’ privacy, not so much. In 2008, then-candidate Obama wrote: There is no reason why we cannot fight terrorism while maintaining our civil liberties. The facts show otherwise now.
The National Security Agency (NSA) of the USA has had direct access to the servers of technology giants like Google, Facebook, Apple or Microsoft. Further, it has removed the user data from their servers, in what amounts to a new practice of secret government surveillance by the Obama administration.
Amidst the controversy over the control of the records of thousands of calls by the U.S. government, ordered to the phone company Verizon, a PowerPoint presentation from the NSA, to which the Washington Post and the Guardian have had access to; proves the U.S. control over the content of millions of file transfers, emails, videos, and chat conversations has actually happened over the Internet.
Everything started after the September 11 attacks, when the U.S. government passed the so-called Patriot Act, a law made to include terrorism as a cause of telecommunications monitoring. Obama has continued the lineage.
The NSA director, James Clapper, has said that this kind of information “threatens” national security. “These revelations are a potential threat to our ability to identify and address the risks facing our country,” said in a statement. Clapper has remarked that access to the data servers of Internet companies is completely legal, that at no time threatened the privacy of American citizens, and was made with knowledge of the Congress.
Data collection is conducted in accordance with procedures approved by the Court of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance to ensure that only information on non-US citizens outside of our borders is collected, and minimize the extent of the retention and dissemination of US citizens information obtained accidentally.
COMPANIES DENY HAVE GIVEN PERMISSION
Both papers (Washington Post and the Guardian) point out that companies like Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype and AOL knowingly cooperated in this program developed since 2007 and named PRISM, although these companies have denied any knowledge of it. The document, classified as ‘top secret’, indicates that the control operations of the servers were approved for the companies.
Apple, Google and Facebook have issued statements playing down the news and insisting on ignoring the PRISM program. They have defended the rigor of its privacy policies and deny that they have allowed the U.S. government to access their data.
Overall, there is an affirmation that they do not provide direct access to their servers to any agency of the Government, and if information is requested from any of their users there is a need for a court order.
However, it doesn’t seem to be a grain of truth in these statements, as there is a need to reaffirm our safety and regard spying leaks as meaningless, when the real truth is that the online privacy of users seems to have been compromised once again.
Google notes that they are concerned about the security of user’s information, and recognize that they only give the authorities the information that the law requires, but they also point out that there is a backdoor through which the government agrees to private user data.
“We do not provide any government organization direct access to the servers of Facebook,” said Joe Sullivan, chief security officer of Facebook. “When we are prompted about the request of Facebook data, or information concerning specific individuals, we carefully examine this application in accordance with all applicable laws, and provide such information only to the extent required by law”.
Without officially confirming the existence of this program, the White House has said that it was essential for the fight against terrorism. “The president’s number one priority is national the security of the United States. We must have the necessary tools to deal with the threats posed by terrorists,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
These latest news leaves once again the privacy of citizens under a cloud of suspicion.