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WE DIDN'T DO IT! Tech giants now claim they didn't give FBI unfettered access to personal information

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 12th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Millions of Americans entrusted these companies to keep their personal information private . now, in light of recent discoveries, certain tech giants say they didn't give the FBI unfettered access to personal information. First on the bandwagon was Google Inc., who released an open letter asking the U.S. Department of Justice for permission to disclose the number and scope of data requests each receives from security agencies, including confidential requests made under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Overall, many Internet companies are now seeking to distance themselves from reports that portrayed the companies as willing partners in supplying mass user data to security agencies.

Google, among others, was reported to have participated in PRISM, a program that mandated tech companies hand over millions of personal records to the federal government. Other such firms such as Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple all reportedly participated. Now, all have denied any knowledge of or participation in the PRISM program.

This doesn't gibe with the facts that some of these companies have allegedly given direct access to their servers in order for the federal government can live-stream data.

Larry Klayman, former Justice Department prosecutor, lodged a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the NSA's phone surveillance program and declaring the newly disclosed spy operation an "outrageous breach of privacy."

The suit names Klayman, the former chairman of Judicial Watch, and two others who say the government has illegally spied on their Verizon accounts.

Klayman has since told U.S. News that he will file a second class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia targeting government officials and each of the nine companies listed in a leaked National Security Agency slideshow as participants in the government's PRISM program.

Facebook and Google deny these accusations, saying they cooperate with the federal government to the extent that they are required to, and not more.

"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," the company said in a post last Friday.

Google's letter, the first that acknowledged it has received FISA requests - argued that releasing the total number of national security requests would show the company does not give the government "unfettered access" to its users' data.

"Assertions in the press that our compliance with these requests gives the U.S. government unfettered access to our users' data are simply untrue," Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder. "Google's numbers would clearly show that our compliance with these requests falls far short of the claims being made," the letter said.

Federal authorities have said the PRISM program only monitors foreigners and is used to look for evidence of terrorist plots against the United States.

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