The Companies' Lines on Prism

President Barack Obama meets with technology industry executives, including Google's Eric Schmidt, Yahoo's former CEO Carol Bartz, and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg in 2011 Photograph by Pete Souza/White House

In a series of terse statement, all the companies named in the reports about NSA’s Internet snooping program, Prism, have denied involvement. All these companies have been compelled to share personal data with the government at some time, which they tacitly acknowledge by saying they only do so after careful consideration and court orders. “Direct access” to servers, though, is a bridge too far, they say; Google also uses the engineer-y term “back door” to explain the access it’s not granting to the federal government. Facebook and Google start off by saying how much they value their users’ privacy, probably because they’ve been through the fire over personal data many times before. And Apple, AOL, and PalTalk claim never to have heard of the program, maybe just because the NSA doesn’t disclose the code names of its operations to companies it is demanding information from.

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