PRISM privacy and the IRS scandal

Thursday the existence of the National Security Agency’s PRISM program was revealed. PRISM is the government program that allegedly works with major Internet companies to collect (some) U.S. citizen data. Tech companies have been fighting to distance themselves from the potentially privacy-violating government programs.

If you don’t ask the right questions, you don’t get the right answers. A question asked in the right way often points to its own answer. Asking questions is the ABC of diagnosis. Only the inquiring mind solves problems.

If everyone is resigning for bad oversight then why has Obama not resigned?

Samantha Power, a former foreign-policy adviser to the Obama campaign, whom the president then appointed to the National Security Council staff, and served as a special assistant to the president on human rights. (I wonder if Power and Rice had some awkward meetings in recent years . . .)

On February 28, 2008, Rice insisted “there had been no contact” between Obama adviser Austan Goolsbee and representatives of the Canadian government. There in fact had been a meeting.

Rice will take over the top national security post from Tom Donilon, who is resigning after four years on the job. Former White House aide Samantha Power was named to replace Rice as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Having lost a chance to be Secretary of State amid harsh Republican criticism, the U.N. ambassador was picked by President Obama on Wednesday to be his national security adviser.

CISPA, IRS Scandals and Benghazi has destroyed the public trust. If PRISM exists and they can use it against citizens then why can’t they use it for Susan Rice, the IRS or Hillary Clinton? Google records voice even in its apps to learn your voice. On Fox it was said they could ask for specific information and a less Specific statement was used as an example.

With programs like PRISM, is the IRS using it to single out groups?

The Post and the Guardian allege tech companies that participate in the PRISM program — Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple offered the government direct access to their servers full of user information. From inside a company’s data stream the NSA is capable of pulling out anything it likes, the Post’s Barton Gellman and Laura Poitras reported.

Facebook and Google were two of the most aggressive deniers. But similarities in their statements raised eyebrows. Both Google CEO Larry Page and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg denied giving the government direct access, per se, to their servers. That Page and Zuckerberg’s statements were, when boiled down, almost identical to the point they seemed rehearsed with government lawyers guiding the pen didn’t help matters.

New reports reveal Facebook and Google were telling something resembling the truth when they denied the NSA has direct access to their servers, and that the government doesn’t, in fact, have direct access to these massive personal information treasures storing most of our modern day-to-day communications. Both The New York Times’ Claire Cain Miller and CNET’s Declan McCullagh have reports debunking some the previous myths about the way PRISM and the NSA interact with the tech companies who cooperate with their surveillance work.

“It’s not as described in the histrionics in the Washington Post or the Guardian,” a source told McCullagh, who went on to say it’s “a very formalized legal process that companies are obliged to do.”

First, it turns out Facebook and Google weren’t lying. The government does not have direct access to their servers. But they did make something special for the NSA to make obtaining the specially requested information as easy as a ransom hand-off:
In at least two cases, at Google and Facebook, one of the plans discussed was to build separate, secure portals, like a digital version of the secure physical rooms that have long existed for classified information, in some instances on company servers. Through these online rooms, the government would request data, companies would deposit it and the government would retrieve it, people briefed on the discussions said.

So the government doesn’t have “direct access” to Facebook and Google servers, but there is a process in place so the NSA can request the information, and there’s a special, secure place for them to retrieve that information. The NSA wants information on person X so they send a request to Google or Facebook. The tech company gathers all the information it has on person X and deposits that information onto the secure server set up for the NSA. Once the information is in place, the NSA accesses the secure server and retrieves the requested information. So the government doesn’t have direct access it has backdoor access via a digital butler as has been implied.

The servers are, in effect, the tech equivalent of a Pandora’s box for the next malicious hacker exploit.

How other tech companies linked to PRISM ended up cooperating is unclear at this time. Twitter is only one who bristled at the government’s request to make the handing-over of information easier. How Microsoft, Yahoo, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple all operate with the NSA is still unknown. In some instances NSA agents would be stationed at a tech companies’ office and would remain at the site for several weeks to download data to an agency laptop, Miller writes. Occasionally the government would request data in real time, which companies send digitally, she reports. But this brings us to an important legal point. Furthermore it presents a risk of packet injection during digital delivery.

So, yes, some people at Facebook and Google probably have national security clearance. That’s coming from both sides of this scandal. On any other day, we would crack wise about how Eric Schmidt having level seven security clearance is, but it still seems too soon for that.



About The Objective Review - Journalist Joseph Kirk
"so it is to the printing press--to the recorder of man's deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news--that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with your help man will be what he was born to be: free and independent." ~John F. Kennedy Contributing to the people with passion and diligence through vigorous and tedious research to get the facts out for review. Political Correspondent for: General News Agency United Press Association News Examiner Demonstrating much prowess for informing the inquiring mind throughout the Republic of the United States of America. an accredited member of the General News Agency, United States Press Agency, United Press Association, US Press Association, The Examiner and The Objective Review. You can be confident that you have been objectively and fully informed. Correspondent Joseph Kirk:

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