The NSA and the FBI are mining the user data of nine major Internet companies, an expose by The Washington Post revealed Thursday evening.
The previously undisclosed program — called PRISM — allows intelligence analysts to directly tap the servers of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple.
The audio and video chats, photographs, emails, documents and connection logs of users are all available to be extracted and analyzed by intelligence analysts.
The names of the companies appear in the order of when they joined the “court-approved” program, which began in 2007. Dropbox is reportedly “coming soon.”
98 percent of PRISM’s product is derived from intelligence gathered from Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google.
“In exchange for immunity from lawsuits, companies such as Yahoo and AOL are obliged to accept a “directive” from the attorney general and the director of national intelligence to open their servers to the FBI’s Data Intercept Technology Unit, which handles liaison to U.S. companies from the NSA,” wrote The Washington Post.
“In 2008,” the newspaper continued, “Congress gave the Justice Department authority for a secret order from the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Court to compel a reluctant company “to comply.”
The companies that responded to the Post’s requests for comment — including Google, Facebook and Apple — denied any participation in PRISM.
The government’s 41-slide PowerPoint presentation — dated April 2013 — and supporting materials describing the program were provided to The Washington Post by a career intelligence officer looking to expose a “gross intrusion of privacy.”
“They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,” the officer said to The Washington Post.