National Security Agency finds a way into user data of Apple, Google, Skype and more
The National Security Agency has managed to get direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other companies according to the Guardian. The NSA are part of a program called PRISM, which allows officials to collect things like users' search history, email content, file transfers and live chats.
The NSA say that they've got the full cooperation of the companies involved, but thus far, everyone is denying any knowledge.
In a statement, Google said: "Google cares deeply about the security of our users' data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government 'back door' into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data."
An Apple spokesman said it had "never heard" of PRISM.
NSA access was enabled by changes in American law, introduced by Dubya Bush, which means there can be in-depth surveillance on live communications and such.
Companies are obliged to comply with requests for communication information by law, but the PRISM program allows the intelligence services direct access to the companies' servers.
The Guardian have images from the presentation, with PRISM, and the idea behind it all is that they can track suspected foreign terrorists. They'll have to wade through millions of clunky amorous emails and selfies first.
NSA are hailing their PRISM program as "one of the most valuable, unique and productive accesses for NSA" and to date, over 77,000 intelligence reports have cited PRISM.
A senior administration official said in a statement: "The Guardian and Washington Post articles refer to collection of communications pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This law does not allow the targeting of any US citizen or of any person located within the United States.
"The program is subject to oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the Executive Branch, and Congress. It involves extensive procedures, specifically approved by the court, to ensure that only non-US persons outside the US are targeted, and that minimize the acquisition, retention and dissemination of incidentally acquired information about US persons.
"This program was recently reauthorized by Congress after extensive hearings and debate.
"Information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats.
"The Government may only use Section 702 to acquire foreign intelligence information, which is specifically, and narrowly, defined in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This requirement applies across the board, regardless of the nationality of the target."