Here’s everything we know about PRISM to date
Courtesy Timothy B. Lee, ArsTechinca
Since the Guardian and The Washington Post revealed the existence of the NSA’s PRISM program last week, there’s been a confusing debate about what exactly the program is and how it works. While the Obama administration has tacitly acknowledged the program’s existence, tech companies have angrily denied that they had given the NSA “direct” or “unfettered” access to their servers. So what’s going on? Let’s try to separate the facts from the hype.
What do we know for sure about PRISM?
We know that PRISM is a system the NSA uses to gain access to the private communications of users of nine popular Internet services. We know that access is governed by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was enacted in 2008. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper tacitly admitted PRISM’s existence in a blog post last Thursday. A classified PowerPoint presentation leaked by Edward Snowden states that PRISM enables “collection directly from the servers” of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook and other online companies.