Facebook, Google, Apple, Yahoo Make
Similar PRISM Denials
Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Apple are denying reports they give the National Security Agency
and FBI secret "back door" access to their servers in a program called PRISM.
The companies' statements closely match one another and allow a notable degree of semantic
SEE ALSO: NSA Leak: Internet Giants Let Government Tap Your Data
Here's Facebook's statement, as given to TheNextWeb:
“Protecting the privacy of our users and their data is a top priority for Facebook. We do not
provide any government organization with direct access to Facebook servers. When Facebook is
asked for data or information about specific individuals, we carefully scrutinize any such request
for compliance with all applicable laws, and provide information only to the extent required by
Note that "direct access," which allows for indirect forms of information-grabbing. On top of
that, there's "extent required by law." PRISM could well be entirely legal under this 2008 update
[PDF] to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Similarly, here's what Yahoo had to say: "We do not provide the government with direct access
to our servers, systems, or network."
Google's statement, given to The Guardian, which along with The Washington Post broke the
PRISM story Thursday:
"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."
Here we see the "in accordance with the law" language pop up once more. While Google denies
giving a "back door," that term typically describes methods of acccessing data without being
detected — maybe the NSA was fine with being detected and they were in fact given a "front
door?" Update: Google told The Next Web it isn't "participating in a similar program with a
different name" or "providing a special API to the government."
Apple's statement, given to CNBC:
"We have never heard of PRISM. We do not provide any government agency with direct access
to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer data must get a court order."
Again, we see that "direct access" language; and again, "a court order." Apple's statement is the
strongest denial of the three, however. The company adds that it has "never heard of PRISM."
The statements were enough for some Twitter to doubt the initial PRISM reports.