Skip to main content

Filed under:

Government contractor leaks massive surveillance effort by NSA, FBI on consumer services

Share this story

Do you use services from Microsoft, Google, Apple, or many other major Silicon Valley companies? If so, a long-running government program called PRISM may have been harvesting your photos and other user data, The Washington Post has revealed. The news came just a day after journalist Glenn Greenwald uncovered a secret court order requiring Verizon to collect records of both domestic and international phone calls and report them to the National Security Agency, giving it the ability to conduct widespread surveillance of US citizens. The exact scope of PRISM is still unclear, as the original report claiming the NSA had "direct access" to companies' servers has been partially retracted, and several companies have denied any knowledge of the initiative's existence.The White House has defended its surveillance, and others say this is simply business as usual for the Bush and Obama administrations. But the document has made explicit what many feared: that laws like the FISA Amendments Act and the Patriot Act have allowed the US government to run roughshod over citizens' privacy. The leaker responsible for revealing PRISM to the world, 29-year-old Edward Snowden, came forward in the days following the leak. Snowden's leak has been described by Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers, as the most important leak in US history.