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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Yahoo and Facebook Explain Their Collaboration with NSA

Marissa Mayer, the current Chief Executive Officer of Yahoo, and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook responded to critics who have charged tech companies with doing not enough to fight off NSA surveillance. Mayer explained that executives faced jail for disclosing government secrets.

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Yahoo and Facebook, as well as a number of some other tech leaders, want to publish the number of requests they receive from the spy agency. However, organizations are forbidden by law to disclose how much information they provide.

Yahoo was asked why tech giants hadn’t simply told the public about what the United States surveillance industry was looking for. Mayer explained that releasing classified data is treason. However, Yahoo from the beginning has been skeptical of those NSA requests, and even sued the foreign intelligence surveillance court, providing the legal framework for NSA surveillance, but without success.

Mark Zuckerberg also believes that the government had done a “bad job” of balancing people’s privacy and its duty to protect. After the truth about PRISM was revealed and the US responded that they aren’t spying on any Americans, Zuckerberg pointed out that it was no help to inspire confidence in companies trying to serve people worldwide. Facebook and others were pushing successfully for more transparency and are still ready to sue in order to get this.

A few days ago, executives from Yahoo, Facebook, Google and other tech giants met the president’s group on intelligence and communications, whose task is to review the technologies used by the NSA. The meeting resulted from the lawsuits Yahoo and Facebook filed again to force the surveillance court to allow them to disclose more data. Yahoo claimed that its inability to respond to news reports has harmed the company’s reputation and has undermined its business not only in the US but everywhere. Aside from Yahoo and Facebook, Microsoft and Google also filed their latest legal briefs to force the court to disclose more data. For example, Google was asking to be allowed to publish detailed statistics about the types of national security requests it received. In addition, the company has also asked the court to hold its hearing in open rather than behind closed doors. 

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