Last night, news broke of a secret court order from the National Security Agency (or NSA) requiring Verizon Wireless to hand over the call records of millions of US cell phone users. As you can imagine, mayhem ensued.

And then just as things began to calm down, another bombshell dropped this afternoon. The Washington Post claims it has obtained slides from a top secret security presentation that show Verizon’s not the only company sharing your data…

According to the report, there are 9 tech companies involved in a broad, highly classified government program, code-named PRISM, that gives the NSA and FBI a “backdoor” into their systems. This backdoor allows them to collect a range of data from their users—including audio, video, photographs, e-mails, and connection logs.


Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple are all named in the slides as participants in the program. Notably, Microsoft was the first to join when it launched back in 2007, and Apple was the last to give in, signing up late last year.

Here’s more from The Washington Post:

“An internal presentation on the Silicon Valley operation, intended for senior analysts in the NSA’s Signals Intelligence Directorate, described the new tool as the most prolific contributor to the President’s Daily Brief, which cited PRISM data in 1,477 articles last year. According to the briefing slides, obtained by The Washington Post, “NSA reporting increasingly relies on PRISM” as its leading source of raw material, accounting for nearly 1 in 7 intelligence reports.”

So just what kind of data is PRISM collecting? Everything.

“According to a separate “User’s Guide for PRISM Skype Collection,” that service can be monitored for audio when one end of the call is a conventional telephone and for any combination of “audio, video, chat, and file transfers” when Skype users connect by computer alone. Google’s offerings include Gmail, voice and video chat, Google Drive files, photo libraries, and live surveillance of search terms.”

Is it legal? That’s the topic of the biggest debate right now—whether or not the government should be able to access our private data without a warrant. But on paper, it appears that it’s totally legal, covered under a revision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

At this point, no one has officially commented on the report. A number of low-level spokespersons from the above companies have denied having any knowledge of the ‘PRISM’ program, but it’s hard to imagine any of them giving a different response. “Yes, we definitely hand over all of your data for warrantless browsing.”

It’ll definitely be interesting to see how all of this pans out.

What do you think about all of this?

Update: Several companies have now given official statements about the PRISM report (via TheNextWeb):

Here’s Google:

“Google cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. We do not have a ‘back door’ for the government to access private user data.”

And Facebook:

“We do not provide any government organization with direct access to Facebook servers.  When Facebook is asked for data or information about specific individuals, we carefully scrutinize any such request for compliance with all applicable laws, and provide information only to the extent required by law.”


“We provide customer data only when we receive a legally binding order or subpoena to do so, and never on a voluntary basis. In addition we only ever comply with orders for requests about specific accounts or identifiers. If the government has a broader voluntary national security program to gather customer data we don’t participate in it.”


“Yahoo! takes users’ privacy very seriously. We do not provide the government with direct access to our servers, systems, or network.”

And finally Apple:

“We have never heard of PRISM. We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer data must get a court order.”

  • Matthew

    I don’t know how to react to this.

    • ✪ aidan harris ✪

      I feel the same way. What makes me wonder though is Apples statement where they state they will not hand over data without a court order. Why then have I read on iDB that there is a waiting list put in place at Apple for agencies and police forces etc to have an idevice unlocked by Apple without requiring any court order. Or am I missing something here….

      • genXhippie

        Very good question.

  • felixtaf

    Slap urself twice, if u have configured ur privacy settings in the above said apps/services…

  • Richard Borkovec

    So really it doesn’t matter if you’ve set up your privacy settings on any site whatsoever, it’s still just handed over. Fan-freaking-tastic.

    • hey

      privacy means private from other facebook users and the world, not private from the government. the government owns all private property, they just need a good excuse to access it.

      • Richard Borkovec

        Private means private from any entity without a warrant to get said data, not just being able to take it for no reason whatsoever. There is a big difference. And this is all done without a warrant.

  • drewstone

    par-for-the-course for our government i guess.

  • This is unconstitutional. This needs to stop, immediately. We as the people need to do something, because legislation and politicians are worthless.

    • Kaptivator

      We as the people have to stop letting the government control us in the name of “FEAR”. We have to learn what we are voting for and not base our votes on what someone sais. No I’m not speaking Republican or Democrat, but the smaller things that are put into law when voting when amending laws. Many of us here are woke, but the masses are still in dream land thinking that, “Well if I’m not doing anything wrong, I have nothing to worry about”. Yeah right. All and all, I feel you on your post.

      • Eric Van Laarhoven

        A lot of people think that this is ok, because the government is “protecting” us from terrorists. Even tho they have been doing this for a very long time, now that we actually know they are doing it and its out in the open, what have they accomplished by know or collecting this DATA? They had the boston bombers in custody before they even detonated the bombs several times interviewing them, ya a lot of good collecting all that data did. Same thing with 9/11 they ignored the imminent attacks threats that they came across with whatever intelligence they had. Again i ask, what good is this data collecting if they are not even using it to stop the freaking terrorists?!!? All this is, is an invasion of privacy and a stomping ground for our civil rights. I for one am OUTRAGED.

    • Hyr3m

      The federal income tax is unconstitutional. The federal reserve is unconstitutional… This is just low-level espionage that they will justify by pointing at unconstitutional acts that were passed and validated by your government…

  • Jason Dennery

    Clear violation of the 4th Amendment.

    The entire point of the 4th Amendment is to prevent these kind of suspicionless searches. It’s the entire point of a warrant.

    An investigator has to come up with reasonable suspicion and evidence justifying to a judge as to what specific crimes they think the suspect is committing and the judge has to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to justify a search and seizure, and technically anything that is to be “seized” is to be specified ahead of time, not just confiscated on the spot.

    • Imahottguy

      Let me start by saying I totally agree in the sense that this is a violation of all the affected users privacy. However, these companies have agreed to give the info, that is where the blame lies. I don’t think that the 4th amendment applies to private companies offering up our info. It would be another thing if the government was forcing the companies against their will, but that does not appear to be the case. Shame on the mentioned companies for giving out our info so easily. I have nothing to hide, but I don’t like the idea of some sort of file on me in a government run data center that has private information that I trusted google and others with not to just give away. I realize that they will use whatever info I provide to them to “improve” their own products, I just did not think that they would hand it over with a smile..

      TL;DR: not 4th amendment when companies serve the info up. Total invasion of privacy on the part of involved companies.

      • Evad3_Me

        Yeah, and if anyone spends any time reading the ToS, I don’t, but somewhere deep within they probably have the right to do as they wish with your information.

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        “…deep within they probably have the right to do as they wish with your information.”

        Pretty much! I remember reading somewhere (I think this was back in the days I frequently read modmyi) that hidden somewhere in Apples TOS is a message that states you will not use any Apple services in the making of a nuclear bomb…

      • D R

        Um, they would be serving up this data involuntarily, as in, they have been served a court order requiring that they give up this data AND keep quiet while doing so.

        We have only found out because somebody violated at least one of these “court orders” [I put it in quotes, because they are rubber-stamped orders from a secret FISA court].

      • Jason Dennery


        These companies are being ORDERED to hand over this information by our government.

        This IS a Constitutional issue.

      • Imahottguy

        I haven’t read anywhere that these companies have been ordered to hand over info. What I have read is that they are cooperating with the government by giving them what they want. It would be one thing if the report read that the companies are not cooperating but that does not appear to be the case. Constitutional issues apply to the government and its agencies. I don’t see how private companies handing over your information (which we all likely agreed to in the EULA for each) violates any amendments. This seems like a business ethics issue (or lack there of). This is not to say I am not concerned about the invasion of privacy, I just think people are blaming the government for asking and not the companies for handing it over on a silver platter.

      • D R

        The initial Verizon story was about a FISA warrant for all telephone records for 3 months [and from the sounds of it, every three months, they would issue another warrant]. And one of the conditions was that the warrant was also to be kept secret [Verizon can’t tell anybody they even received it].

        Given the relative ease of getting FISA warrants, and that the vast majority of them have absolute secrecy attached to them and that none of these companies would want the PR nightmare of having to admit to voluntarily giving all this data to the gov’t…it’s most likely they have had to follow the directives of a FISA warrant that they can’t tell anybody they received.

      • Imahottguy

        I will concede that to you. I still believe that it is up to these tech companies to resist and fight blanket warrants and other unconstitutional requests made by the government. There has to be a better way, though I admit I haven’t the slightest idea what that may be.

  • Ian

    Does this include Flickr? I have personal photos on there..

    • Alex

      Unless they are of your meth lab, I wouldn’t worry.

  • Skyline83

    Only in the land of the free!
    And if there’s still something that you think never will happen, well, think again!

    • Kaptivator

      Land of the free!!! lol.

  • William sage

    Who didn’t knew this already they have been doing this for years now

    • Alex

      Apparently since 9/11/07

    • Eric Van Laarhoven

      does not make it ok.

  • Jeff Karno

    I’ve said it for years, a government that doesn’t trust it’s people will soon find it needs protection from it’s people.

  • n0ahcruz3

    Who’s surprised? As soon as you sign up to any web related content you are giving away your data.

    • Eric Van Laarhoven

      Does not make it ok. Stand up for your rights!!

  • Shane Sepeda

    Does this mean they also receive text message data?

    • Evad3_Me


  • Adam Leeper

    Unfortunately this was all put together in the patriot act. In the war against home grown and international terrorism the world is blanketed with a web of eyes and ears always on the lookout for terrorists.

  • TekNoah

    So if this has been going on and the current administration various depts have been using private email addresses for out of band comms to orchestrate and shape change to the bill of rights, constitution, auditing by the IRS the we should be able to tap some of those resources to make an air tight case against the offenders.

  • Marly Marl

    How does one stay away from these companys?

    • ✪ aidan harris ✪

      You pull a Kim Dotcom and make your own Internet startup in New Zealand. Other than that I can’t think of another way…

  • Jdgg84

    This is ridiculous, and just like that, they sweep it under the rug. Not like anyone knows what to do. People just get scared nowadays.. when will everyone start to fight back..

    • Kurt

      infowars (dot) com

      • Micaiah Martin

        Or Lewrockwell(dot) com

  • Micaiah Martin

    welcome to the USA where freedom is nowhere to be found.

  • Stefano

    Honestly this is terrible. And at the same time I feel I have nothing to hide so why not, and as I look as what I wrote I say, what the hell is wrong with you. Do we give up privacy for safety? Ugh, I just don’t know

    • Kurt

      Those who sacrifice freedom for safety deserve neither. -Thomas Jefferson

      You may have nothing to hide, you may do what is legal. But in the future it can be used against you. In Venezuela, people who signed a petition to have a special presidential election to oust Chavez lost their jobs. Why? because they signed the petition and Chavez had the names leaked to their employers. In order to keep their job, they need to sign a document stating that they never signed the petition, that their name was forged. Many people did that to keep their jobs. Signing the petition was legal, but it was used against them. Terrorism is not that bad that we need to lose so much of our rights, and so much of our privacy. Mark Fuhrman said, once you write up a search warrant, in the future it only takes 15 min to do it again as they are all basically the same. And if its legit, a judge will sign off on it. We don’t need the patriot act abusing our rights. 270,000,000 people have been killed in the name of Governments in the past 100 years. Many millions just murdered by their governments.

      • Hyr3m

        My man !

        Now people should start waking up ^^

      • Stefano

        Thank you for that information.

  • Pranav Shankar

    well now i know that the nsa sucks at making presentations:P

  • Joseph

    Gotta love how Apple was the only one to outright deny the claims, despite it being painfully obvious that they do.

  • Hyr3m

    Thank You iDB for posting this!

    I’ve been arguing with naïve readers on that other thread (trust Twitter and Google, not Apple, to protect you from government data demands) about exactly this.

    What did I tell you guys ? You can’t trust any of them! If you think this is outrageous then do your research on the federal income tax and federal reserve, false flag attacks (Lusitania, Gulf of Tonkin, 9/11, 7/7, Sandy Hook, Boston marathon etc..), free-masonry and fake movements such as (Rothschild) Zionism and so-called islamist terrorism. Look into what monsanto is doing and what HAARP is. Wherever you are in the world : look up in the sky every day for two weeks and you’ll invariably see atmospheric aerosols, then research what you’ve been breathing in weekly for years. Fema camps are pretty funny too (as long as you’re not a US citizen).

    Then imagine all the propaganda needed to blind the masses…

    Nah actually… if you want to get a sense of what is happening… just research the 25 principles and goals of the illuminati and you can start getting a grasp of what’s been happening in the world since the late 1700s ; revolutions… wars… everything with one main goal in sight.

    Finally, I’m sorry you had to learn all this… I know it’s easier to live in the dark…

    • Kurt

      Too bad we can’t sue Monsanto. Too bad a company that makes genetically modified organisms, GMO can’t be sued. They are legally above the law. Too bad, the people reading this will think what I just said is not true since it is so outrageous. “Land of the free”

      • Hyr3m

        Wouldn’t do any good anyway… the “problem” we need to resolve is way above Monsanto… and the only way it can be solved is by using a good old device named guillotine. Problem is I don’t think we’ll have enough sharp blades to cut all the heads that need to roll…

  • iOops

    Looks and feels like cyber rape to me. Thank god I am not an american or live in the US.

    • Hyr3m

      Well… they don’t care if you’re an American or not… they have info on you like they do on all of us… Their masters know no land border boundaries and will get to you wherever you are if you ever pose a threat to them…

      • iOops

        That is true. I do fear however, that those in the Continental USA are far more vulnerable than most others, if nothing more than pure convenience and opportunity for the local authorities.

      • Hyr3m

        Yours seems like a good assumption… However to be sure of that we’d need to know why they’re actually doing this in the first place; and since it has nothing to do with terrorism (except maybe their own) it’s hard to say if it’s a global issue or if US citizens are the only ones at risk…

        Imho, just like any mafia, they don’t really care about borders and this is not limited to the US but each and every more or less “civilized” country has the equivalent of this… And most of them probably share info…

  • Unkown

    It my be wrong,But this world is going to hell.Stop and think what if it prevents a bombing or school shooting or a attack from some 3rd world country?who really cares if someone sees you in your bday suit or your plans to bang wife’s sister?

  • Prasoon Singh

    Well there goes over freedom on the internet and our privacy.

  • Lol apples doing this since it existed and this is there since the internet came out didnt you see that south park episode they track all your iOS devices lmao this is #NWO #illuminati

  • David Lanier

    “Well if I’m not doing anything wrong, I have nothing to worry about”. Any individual or group that makes this statement is not a patriot in my book. Our founding fathers fought against the tyranny of British rule. As a result they put in place certain provisions or concepts into the constitution ( You know that document that forms the basis of our society/country ) For anyone to roll over and allow these “rights” to be violated simply because they have nothing to hide is a complete idiot.

    How long before we have allowed the government to erode all of our “rights”? I place “rights” in quotes because if they are actually “right” then they can’t be taken away. If they can be taken away then they are privileges and not rights.

    The above quote is precisely how our rights get taken from us. Our founding fathers put in place certain concepts to allow the American people direct redress of their government. If we allow that to be taken away then we are no longer free we are merely slaves with the delusion of freedom.

    How long before making a comment such as this one becomes an illegal act? Our legal system is one of precedent. If we allow precedents to erode our system of government then we are no longer Americans. Either you believe in the principles our founding fathers based our country upon or you are an enemy of the very nation.

    There are men and women that fought and died to protect your right to have an opinion, to express that opinion, to presume a freedom from an oppressive government.

    Are we going to be run by corporations or by citizens?

    Read the patriot act and you will see that very soon you will not be allowed to voice your opinions without being labeled a traitor.

    The least we could do in the name of all of those that died to give us the freedom we so proudly inflict upon other countries is to stand up for them when they are so blatantly being taken away.

  • D R

    Yes, every single one of these statements is disingenuous. They all have been handing over your private data, as required by repeated FISA warrants, for years.

  • LordRassilon OfTime

    I’m surprised you people are shocked with this. OF COURSE the government has been violating your privacy, and this isn’t anything new