The real shame about NSA/PRISM is that everyone will forget about it next week or next month. Just like we forgot about Trapwire and other endless abuses in the name of protecting society.
The US is now a nation too mentally castrated to do anything about these obvious constitutional abuses. Why are we only capable of short-lived and impotent protest attempts like Occupy? How did we get to be so sedated through this anesthesia of modern consumerism and entertainment?
As of today, it’s no longer just a thought confined to the head of some crazy conspiracy theorist.
Today President Obama defended the spy programs (cell phone and internet espionage), directly against his campaign promises (video from 2007), in I suppose a true political fashion.
Facebook and Google CEOs appeared to have denied involvement using carefully constructed statements. One of the commenter’s on Mark Zuckerberg’s post made the observation that his is a carbon copy of Larry Page’s, which is indeed very strange.
Here’s the statements side-by-side, emphasis mine.
Part 1: Introduction
Dear Google users—
You may be aware of press reports alleging that Internet companies have joined a secret U.S. government program called PRISM to give the National Security Agency direct access to our servers. As Google’s CEO and Chief Legal Officer, we wanted you to have the facts.
I want to respond personally to the outrageous press reports about PRISM:
Part 2: Deny direct involvement with any government program
First, we have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government—or any other government—direct access to our servers. Indeed, the U.S. government does not have direct access or a “back door” to the information stored in our data centers. We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday.
Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the US 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.
Part 3: Emphasize that data given to the government is on a case-by-case basis and in compliance with the law
Second, we provide user data to governments only in accordance with the law. Our legal team reviews each and every request, and frequently pushes back when requests are overly broad or don’t follow the correct process. Press reports that suggest that Google is providing open-ended access to our users’ data are false, period. Until this week’s reports, we had never heard of the broad type of order that Verizon received—an order that appears to have required them to hand over millions of users’ call records. We were very surprised to learn that such broad orders exist. Any suggestion that Google is disclosing information about our users’ Internet activity on such a scale is completely false.
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 is required by law. We will continue fighting aggressively to keep your information safe and secure.
Part 4: Recommend more government transparency
Finally, this episode confirms what we have long believed—there needs to be a more transparent approach. Google has worked hard, within the confines of the current laws, to be open about the data requests we receive. We post this information on our Transparency Report whenever possible. We were the first company to do this. And, of course, we understand that the U.S. and other governments need to take action to protect their citizens’ safety—including sometimes by using surveillance. But the level of secrecy around the current legal procedures undermines the freedoms we all cherish.
Posted by Larry Page, CEO and David Drummond, Chief Legal Officer
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.
I’m not sure if this is conspiracy or just laziness, but I would guess the latter. Both responses have similar wording (which is admittedly sometimes unavoidable) and are organized in the same three-part format, with the same talking point for each section.