Microsoft is among a list of nine tech companies that The Washington Post, in an investigative report, said “participate knowingly” in an National Security Agency and FBI program that taps directly into the companies’ central servers to get information that can allow analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts.
But several of those companies Thursday evening denied knowing about or participating in the program.
Microsoft, in 2007, was supposedly the first of the nine companies to become involved in the program, known as PRISM, according to The Washington Post, citing NSA briefing slides that apparently included a roster that lists the companies in the order in which they joined the program. The other companies that joined are Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple, the Post reported.
Microsoft issued a statement Thursday evening, saying:
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.
Microsoft spokesman Mark Murray tweeted a link to the statement, along with the comment: “MSFT, Apple, Google, FB, Yahoo have all denied knowledge/participation.”
Google also issued a statement, saying:
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. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government “back door” into our systems, but Google does not have a “back door” for the government to access private user data.
Apple, meanwhile, issued a statement saying says that it’s never heard of PRISM, and that “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,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
According to TechCrunch, Facebook said: “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.”
Yahoo, according to TechCrunch, issued a statement, saying: “Yahoo! takes users’ privacy very seriously. We do not provide the government with direct access to our servers, systems, or network.”