Ina Fried

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What the Tech Industry and Politicians Are Saying About NSA’s Massive Data Collection

The tech industry had a lot to say this week amid reports of massive government surveillance of Internet and telephone activity.

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The Internet giants accused of giving the government access turned to the Web to defend themselves, while others in the industry voiced strong criticism over the apparent government activity.

Meanwhile the federal government, including President Obama and Director of National Security James Clapper, defended their actions, while others in Washington said it was time to rein in some of the surveillance tactics.

Here are a smattering of opinions offered up this week.

Ray Ozzie, Lotus Notes founder, former Microsoft executive, speaking at the Nantucket Conference:

“I hope that people wake up, truly wake up, to what’s happening to society, from both a big brother perspective and little brother perspective. … We got what we asked for, and now it’s time to pull it back. Imagine if you had an administration targeting journalists or groups of people based on political leanings.”

(via Boston.com)

Mark Zuckerberg, in a post on the social network:

“Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the U.S. or any other government direct access to our servers. We have never received a blanket request or court order from any government agency asking for information or metadata in bulk, like the one Verizon reportedly received. And if we did, we would fight it aggressively. We hadn’t even heard of PRISM before yesterday.

“When governments ask Facebook for data, we review each request carefully to make sure they always follow the correct processes and all applicable laws, and then only provide the information if is required by law. We will continue fighting aggressively to keep your information safe and secure.”

David Drummond, chief legal officer, Google, in a blog post:

“We cannot say this more clearly — the government does not have access to Google servers — not directly, or via a back door, or a so-called drop box. Nor have we received blanket orders of the kind being discussed in the media. It is quite wrong to insinuate otherwise. We provide user data to governments only in accordance with the law. Our legal team reviews each and every request, and frequently pushes back when requests are overly broad or don’t follow the correct process. And we have taken the lead in being as transparent as possible about government requests for user information.”

James Clapper, director of national security, in a statement on Saturday.

“Over the last week we have seen reckless disclosures of intelligence community measures used to keep Americans safe. In a rush to publish, media outlets have not given the full context–including the extent to which these programs are overseen by all three branches of government–to these effective tools.”

President Obama, speaking to reporters in Silicon Valley:

“Now, the programs that have been discussed over the last couple days in the press are secret in the sense that they’re classified, but they’re not secret in the sense that when it comes to telephone calls, every member of Congress has been briefed on this program. …

“When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls. That’s not what this program’s about. As was indicated, what the intelligence community is doing is looking at phone numbers and durations of calls. They are not looking at people’s names, and they’re not looking at content. …

“Now, with respect to the Internet and emails, this does not apply to U.S. citizens, and it does not apply to people living in the United States. And again, in this instance, not only is Congress fully apprised of it, but what is also true is that the FISA Court has to authorize it.”

(via Wall Street Journal)

Al Franken, U.S. senator, D-Minn.:

“There’s a balance to strike between protecting Americans’ privacy and protecting our country’s national security. I don’t think we’ve struck that balance. I’m concerned about the lack of transparency of these programs. The American public can’t be kept in the dark about the basic architecture of the programs designed to protect them. We need to revisit how we address that balance.”


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