The FBI and the National Security Agency have been pulling photos, emails and other personal information from the servers of nine U.S. internet companies, according to an explosive report in the Washington Post that describes a secret six-year snooping program.
Highly confidential slides explaining the program, known as PRISM, say information gleaned from the companies’ servers contributed to 1 in 7 NSA reports and figured prominently in the President’s daily briefings. The slides appear to have been leaked to the Post.
Update: According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the government’s data-collection efforts also included information from internet service providers as well as credit-card and transaction-processing companies.
The revelation of the program, which the Post said has expanded significantly in the last six years, is significant because it amounts to a wholesale domestic spying program on the millions of Americans who use common cloud-based services like GoogleDrive or Apple’s iCloud.
The news also comes at a time that the federal government is under pressure over revelations that it allegedly pulled metadata for millions of phone calls involving Verizon subscribers.
The companies that were targets of the PRISM spying are: Microsoft(s msft), Yahoo(s yhoo), Google(s goog), Facebook(s fb), PalTalk, AOL(s aol), Skype, YouTube, Apple(s aapl). The confidential documents say cloud service Dropbox is “coming soon.”
The Guardian has posted a similar report that includes a slide showing the data when surveillance commenced:
Update: James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, issued a statement Thursday night saying the Post and Guardian articles “contain numerous inaccuracies” and that the “unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.”