After yesterday’s public reveal of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) demands for Verizon customers’ data, more information is coming out suggesting the NSA’s casting a much bigger net.
The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the NSA’s operations, reports that the same initiative targeting Verizon data is also collecting similar information from AT&T and Sprint. In addition, the program named PRISM, is also reportedly pulling personal data from tech companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Microsoft and Skype as well as gathering purchase information from credit card companies.
Spokespeople from the tech companies in question denied any knowledge of the PRISM program. But Powerpoint slides leaked and verified by The Guardian show that the program operated with the “assistance of communications providers in the US" since 2007.
The program’s surveillance initiatives have been largely defended by members of Congress, many of whom have pointed out the program’s effectiveness in preventing acts of terrorism. But Senator Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), an often outspoken legislator on technology issues, has come out against the program and called it a “massive” invasion of privacy.
The Journal points out that the PRISM program, born of the Patriot Act that followed in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, has become institutionalized.
The Guardian Thursday published the order demanding Verizon deliver to the NSA the numbers of both parties, location data, identifiers like IMSI and IMEI numbers, and time and duration of calls. The order has been in place since April and requires Verizon give over the requisite information for both international calls originating in the U.S. and calls made within the U.S.
The order described the collection of “metadata,” which does not include the actual content of calls and messages.