NSA said to have paid 'millions' to cover costs for tech giants in PRISM program

NSA said to have paid 'millions' to cover costs for tech giants in PRISM program

Summary: The tech giants implicated in the PRISM hubbub have repeatedly denied offering access, but new documents reveal the NSA footed the bill for compliance costs.


It seems that everyday now the public is filled in with another nugget of information about the actions of the U.S. National Security Agency and its now infamous PRISM data-tapping program.

The latest detail, reported by The Guardian on Friday, is that the NSA paid "millions" of U.S. Dollars -- using taxpayer funds --  to foot the bill in covering compliance costs for the tech companies implicated to be data sources for PRISM.

In early June, The Guardian and the Washington Post both broke stories reporting that the federal agency was mining data from the following nine technology industry giants: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple, and video chat room community PalTalk. (Dropbox was said to have been the next company added to the list.)

Friday's revelation follows up news from earlier this week that the NSA's reach was actually much wider than originally speculated. The Wall Street Journal found that the NSA has a system that can reach roughly 75 percent of all U.S. Internet traffic in efforts to acquire foreign intelligence.

The Federal Government also declassified a secret court ruling on Wednesday, revealing that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) declared some surveillance (notably keeping extra tabs on U.S. citizens) conducted by the NSA to be illegal and unconstitutional.

The note about the NSA incurring the costs to cover "certification demands" for the aforementioned nine tech giants was also included the ruling released on Wednesday.

Based on The Guardian's report, it also looks like it was the Federal Government's responsibility to cover costs here given the NSA was the one demanding the data.

To recall, the companies listed as the data sources have issued public rebuttals denying any involvement in PRISM.

Yahoo took things a step further, petitioning the FISC in Washington, D.C., to declassify documents from a specific classified case in 2008 that the technology company asserted will clear its name.

The Department of Justice has promised to declassify the decision first by September 12. That will be followed by the briefs and materials cited by the federal court, scheduled to be declassified by September 27.

The Executive Branch has also promised for more transparency for government surveillance programs, calling for the establishment of a "Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies."

The task force is scheduled to provide an interim report in 60 days and a final report no later than December 15.

Topics: Government US, Legal, Privacy, Security, Tech Industry

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  • So the Microsoft Windows tax actually is a tax

    Not only are they giving your data to the NSA, but they are making you pay for it too?

    • Tunnel Vision Much?

      Apple, Google, Facebook, etc. are all angels. Microsoft is the only evil! Take off your tunnel vision glasses you'll notice that Microsoft wasn't the only one listed.
      • laws

        Hey baby, they all are forced to cooperate by the USA fascistic laws ;)
        But Microsoft is probably the worst.......fingers in corruption all over the world.....now an affair in Russia and Pakistan.....facts
      • I have read his posts and have noticed the same pattern

        He will remain quiet on all others, except for Microsoft.

        It has been suggested by others that he is paid to post such comments, and I have concluded that those accusations hold merit based on his posted comments. What is still an unknown is which corporation is signing those checks.

        I believe in time we will be able to ascertain that through the process of elimination.
        John Zern
    • You do realize

      this covers ALL service providers don't you?

      Google, Yahoo, MS, Facebook, AOL, Skype (even before it was MS), and Apple... just to name a few. The chart in the news today listed like 11 total, and yes, Apple was on that list too. This isn't a provider issue, it's a US government issue. They are the ones that passed all the laws that made this crap possible. You should be more worried that tax payers are the ones paying for it.
    • Ha! Now thats funny.

      Funny because it was said with such straight line authority yet it makes no sense of any kind.
    • Now we have a definitive answer on how Google can give away "free" services

      they were being subsidized by the NSA since the whole time.
      William Farrel
  • Americans, should worry

    "keeping extra tabs on U.S. citizens ... conducted by the NSA to be illegal and unconstitutional."

    And I'm sure it's still happening under the cloak of "National Security." We need another Snowden to show us how deep the NSA's contempt for the Law goes.
    • It has only just begun...

      We certainly could use all the whistleblowers that we can get, but so far Snowden has barely even begun to scratch the surface so far. As the corrupt power structure continues to crumble, many, many, more will reveal themselves.

      Disclosure pertaining to depth of the corruption is being strategically meted out and has already caused groups such as these corporations to throw up a cover only to have it dashed upon the next disclosure.

      It is best that all complicit companies come clean as soon as possible, as the act of continuing to fabricate lies in an attempt to extricate themselves will only dig them in deeper. Leniency is available and preferable, but not so for the intransigent. In the past, history has shown that if someone lied long and hard enough there was a very good chance that they would escape. However the game has changed and it will not play out that way this time.

      In the end, the goal to achieve a state of affairs where an equitable system can replace an inequitable one. Locking up tens of thousands of complicit individuals is not the goal. Revenge is not the goal. A healthy equitable society is the goal. That is why clemency is preferred. Once the corruption has been removed and an environment is created where the potential for abuse has been removed it is not so necessary focus on retribution. Yes everyone wants justice, but if revenge, no matter how well deserved in theory, subverts the need to move on to a new way of doing things (the negative aspects of revenge being incompatible with this), then we cannot get to where we need to go.

      We have an opportunity here to move on to a way of living that has previously been inconceivable given that we have been taught to believe that war and fear are inextricable from human experience. This is what we have been cleverly programmed to believe but in fact that is not the case.
  • NSA not only snoops but they also steal

    Close the useless stealing cretins down, they prevent NOTHING, yet the perverts, deviants and scumbags steal money from taxpayers, and do nothing and give nothing in return.

    NSA = Needless Slimy Agency.
    Reality Bites
  • Deficit?

    They scream deficit and cut all social programs, infrastructure repairs, education, anything that benefits the taxpayer. As the 1% pay less taxes than the 99, who is benefitting from all these intrusions? They sit around and collect the interest on a debt they created but we have to pay off and then monitor us to catch any rebels before they can create a following.
  • This is all to feed the greedy.

    A government of rich people, by rich people and for rich people. The 1% we LET take our country away from us. After all most of us voted for these a..holes.