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Why didn't Facebook, Yahoo warn public about NSA? Because they faced prison time if they did

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

The National Security Agency worked with both Facebook and Yahoo in the Internet surveillance of American civilians. Both Facebook and Yahoo users rely on confidentiality provided by these servers. The question arises . why didn't both Facebook and Yahoo let the general public know about the activities of the NSA before hand? According to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, the answer is simple: "Releasing classified information is treason and you are incarcerated," she said.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Both Mayer and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke out against critics who have charged tech companies with not doing enough to fight off NSA surveillance. Mayer said her executives faced jail time if they revealed government secrets.

More tech firms are now pushing to be able to publish the number of requests they receive from the spy agency. Companies are currently forbidden by law to disclose how much data they provide.

Mayer was asked why tech companies had not simply decided to tell the public more about what the US surveillance industry was doing during an interview at the Techcrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco.

Mayer said she that she was "proud to be part of an organization that from the beginning, in 2007, has been skeptical of - and has been scrutinizing - those requests [from the NSA]."

Yahoo has previously unsuccessfully sued the foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court, which provides the legal framework for NSA surveillance. Yahoo asked to be allowed to publish the details of requests it received from the spy agency back in 2007. "When you lose and you don't comply, it's treason," said Mayer. "We think it make more sense to work within the system," she said.

Zuckerberg said the government had done a "bad job" of balancing people's privacy and its duty to protect. "Frankly I think the government blew it," he said.

"The government response was, 'Oh don't worry, we're not spying on any Americans.' Oh, wonderful: that's really helpful to companies trying to serve people around the world, and that's really going to inspire confidence in American internet companies," Zuckerberg added.

"I thought that was really bad," he said. Zuckerberg said Facebook and others were pushing successfully for more transparency. "We are not at the end of this. I wish that the government would be more proactive about communicating. We are not psyched that we had to sue in order to get this and we take it very seriously," he said.

Both Yahoo and Facebook have filed suits once more to force the Fisa court to allow them to disclose more information.

"Yahoo has been unable to engage fully in the debate about whether the government has properly used its powers, because the government has placed a prior restraint on Yahoo's speech," Yahoo said in its motion.

"Yahoo's inability to respond to news reports has harmed its reputation and has undermined its business not only in the United States but worldwide. Yahoo cannot respond to such reports with mere generalities," the company said.

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