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Big Tech CEOs chastise NSA information gathering

Yahoo and Facebook heads feel the government is handling intelligence gathering poorly

If you’re active on any form of social media, use a smartphone or otherwise exist in the constantly connected world we live in, chances are your privacy is compromised one way or another.  And while it may not be much of a surprise, recent revelations about the level of information that the NSA collects on  the average internet user and the length to which their PRISM program went to get that information, have caught the attention of even the most apathetic internet users.

Putting their two cents in from the TechCrunch Disrupt Conference in San Francisco this week, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg openly chided the NSA’s intelligence operations.

When asked about what Yahoo has done to  protect the privacy of its users, Mayer said she was “proud to be part of an organization that from the very beginning - in 2007 - with the NSA and Fisa and Prism has been skeptical of and has been scrutinizing those requests.”

She described how Yahoo had filed a lawsuit against intelligence requests in 2007 and commented that, when they lost, they were forced to hand over information because noncompliance would have been considered treason and resulted in jail time.

Despite his company’s checkered past with privacy issues, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was also critical of the NSA’s attempts to collect information from his company. “I think the government blew it,” he said at the event.

One way Facebook is attempting to inform its users about government information requests is by keeping transparent records of who’s requesting data from the site. While Facebook is unable to release detailed information on how many requests it receives from the NSA, its recent transparency report shows that the U.S. is responsible for the most information requests of any nation.  In the first six months of 2013, the U.S. government made 11,000- 12,000 requests on up to 21,000 Facebook users. Facebook supplied information on around 79 percent of those requests.

Despite the fact that the company was forced to comply with government information requests frequently in 2013, Zuckerberg says that “It’s our job to protect everyone who uses Facebook. It’s our government’s job to protect all of us, our freedom and the economy. They did a bad job at balancing this.”

Expect more big tech names to chime in as details of the PRISM program continue to emerge.


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