Not Just Verizon: NSA Pulling Information from Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple, with DropBox Coming Soon

Extracting all kind of data


post not approved by nsa, but hi guys!

The hits keep coming. Via the Washington Post:

The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person's movements and contacts over time.

The highly classified program, code-named PRISM, has not been disclosed publicly before. Its establishment in 2007 and six years of exponential growth took place beneath the surface of a roiling debate over the boundaries of surveillance and privacy. Even late last year, when critics of the foreign intelligence statute argued for changes, the only members of Congress who know about PRISM were bound by oaths of office to hold their tongues.

The Post reports almost 1 in 7 intelligence reports rely on raw data from PRISM. All nine companies (Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple) "participate knowingly" according to the Post, which obtained slides of an internal presentation on the operation. Drop Box is listed as "coming soon." The Post notes this program's historical roots in the 70s, when the NSA teamed up with up to 100 U.S. companies in the 1970s for "Special Sources Operations," and in the Bush era warrantless surveillance program.

This follows earlier (yesterday!) breaking news on NSA surveillance of Americans' phone records through Verizon, as the administration's propensity to spy on Americans and stretch its legal powers becomes increasingly apparent to the mainstream. BuzzFeed has a quiz titled "Orwell or Obama?" (disclosure: I tripped up on #8 just before seeing this story). Meanwhile, Huffington Post's news banner headline today is GEORGE W. OBAMA. If you've been reading Reason, you know this story already.

Update: The Washington Post story was revised to add official denials from spokespersons for the companies identified in the NSA document the Post obtained.

NEXT: NSA Siphons User Data From Major Internet Companies

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Hey statists, how do you like the government now?

    1. they like it just fine

    2. They wants moar. After all, the government is only going after evil baggers and Rethuglicans, it would never, ever, never go after them, cause they’re special.

      1. More because they see themselves as goodthinkful people like Parsons, and those evil baggers as agents of Goldstein.

    3. A lot of the statists I follow on Twitter seem upset. I’m trying to decide whether Schadenbitters??igkeit or ?berraschungsbitters??igkeit is the better word for what I’m feeling right now.

      1. I think it’s a little bit of both. There’s surprise and butthurt both.

        1. I guess maybe I just can’t pack all my emotions into a single word right now.

          1. With German, you can simply mash words together, you know.

            1. What do you think I was doing already? It gets unwieldy.

              1. There is no earthly language that can accurately express your emotional state.

                You should study more Klingon.

                1. HM, Twitter has just informed me that “y’all black now.” So, you may be right about that “no earthly language” thing at this point.

                  1. y’all black now

                    Did you at least get the booty?

                    1. I had that.

              2. No, it doesn’t. It gets awesome.

      2. Whatever KGB stands for will work.

      3. I’m trying to decide whether Schadenbitters??igkeit or ?berraschungsbitters??igkeit is the better word for what I’m feeling right now.

        Either Google Translate is broken, or your German is a bit off. I got “Damage Bitter Bitter or Candy Candy Surprise

        1. My feelings are bittersweet–but at people’s misery, or their surprise?

          1. OT, but when the new name change? Is this another obscure song reference that I’m not getting? Also, “caddie” and not “caddy”? Is i-e the verb and y is the person?

            1. The other day. I’m pretty sure Sparks is significantly less well known than Paul Simon, so…yes? And yes.

        2. Or maybe that’s how crazy all of this data mining stuff is.

    4. So many Americans are now dependent on government support and they wouldn’t dare vote out those who they rely on to survive.

      Rand Paul is the most high-profile politician who opposes these ridiculous overreaches of power, yet he doesn’t preach the benefits of the EBT card. EBT 4th amendment.

      I can’t think of anyone with clout that supports a welfare state and the 4th amendment, so the statists won’t tackle this problem.

    5. This is a great program, but it needs to be used more effectively. For example, the NSA could data mine telephone records to identify wingnuts for referral to the IRS.

      1. At this rate, information that that is already happening will probably come out in a few days.

    6. “I find the governments efforts totally fap worthy…totally!

      /t o n y

  2. All your secrets are belong to us!

  3. Why are you complaining? This is inevitable so you should accept it and move on.

    1. Yeah.

      At this point, what difference does it make?

  4. Looksl ike those idiot Feds have WAY too much spare time on their hands.


    1. This is all just a marketing campaign by Anonobot. It makes more sense than anything else.

      1. “Dismantling the Constitution”, a History Channel series, presented by Anonobot.

        1. Short series…

  5. Not Dropbox! That’s where I keep my Archive of Disturbing Adjectives!

  6. So this is just Ashcroft’s (I think) old program that people killed like 6 or 7 years ago, resurrected with a different name minutes later?

    1. John Poindexter. Yeah, it does sound like Total Information Awareness.

    2. PRISM, Carnivore, whatever.

    3. So the FTC is all disturbed by “behavioral targeting”, because businesses might use personal information to sell stuff to people. But even more intrusive actions by the government, which can do far, far worse is okay.

  7. the only members of Congress who know about PRISM were bound by oaths of office to hold their tongues.

    Gotta love that bit. How does that work, exactly? Here’s the Senate oath of office:

    I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

    Defend the Constitution, huh? So in the Constitution it says:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated

    Weird. It’s almost like the very plain meaning of that sentence is just being ignored.

    1. Yeah, but you have to check the fine print.

    2. Almost as ignored as me saying almost the exact same thing in a previous thread and then not getting a hat tip for the story. (Kidding, Ed, obviously you were on this.)

      1. Yeah, they never would have noticed this small, obscure story without your help.

        1. I’m more upset that someone made my same comment. Some of us don’t like to repeat ourselves.

          1. Maybe, but do you actually know anyone like that?

            1. I only linked. I could have actually cross-posted.

              1. The important thing is that we were fully briefed.

    3. I don’t see email or stupid facebook posts included in the 4th, so not a problem. Email is digital and all of the stuff included are physical, so nope, 4th doesn’t apply.

      Now if they wanted to come into your house and stand behind you while you write an email on your iPad, that would require a warrant, but see, they do it from the data center and you don’t even know about it, what’s the harm? You are a loyal American with nothing to hide right? This is us, we are our government, you can trust us. Honest.

      1. And we’re all created equal, so not trusting your bretheren is kinda like not trusting yourself, in which case, you should be locked up and sent away to build a railroad or something.

    4. I wonder if that’s enforceable. Aren’t members of Congress immune from prosecution for anything they say on the floor? I suppose that’s not totally absolute, but for this, I wonder.

    5. “Weird. It’s almost like the very plain meaning of that sentence is just being ignored”

      Yeah, “Congress shall make no law…” seems to suffer from the same ambiguity.

    6. Well, for the constitution to mean jack shit, politicians/citizens/everyone needs to be held to it.

      And historically that’s not the case, see no reason for them to adhere to it now.

      What exactly do you expect from congress/the executive/judicial? I judge them not by their language, but their actions, and have come to the conclusion the lot of them almost in entirety are criminals.

  8. If your data does not physically sit on a physical hard drive, in your physical space that you control, you don’t own it.

    1. The ether belongs to all

      1. Your drunk pics certainly do.

        1. And don’t worry, facial recognition software will find them for you.

  9. Prism started in 2007 sooo …..BOOSH!!!
    Seriously though the dam has broken and now the media is finally airing dirty laundary on this administration.

    1. Yeah, the Post should have covered for Bush and added this to the file of Obama fake scandals.

      1. What’s more ‘tarded, shrieky or Black Eyed Peas lyrics:

        Tonight’s the night, let’s live it up
        I got my money, let’s spend it up
        Go out and smash it like oh my God
        Jump off that sofa, let’s get, get off

        I know that we’ll have a ball
        If we get down and go out and just lose it all
        I feel stressed out, I wanna let it go
        Let’s go way out spaced out and losing all control

        Fill up my cup, mazel tov
        Look at her dancing, just take it off
        Let’s paint the town, we’ll shut it down
        Let’s burn the roof, and then we’ll do it again

        Let’s do it, let’s do it, let’s do it, let’s do it
        And do it and do it, let’s live it up
        And do it and do it and do it, do it, do it
        Let’s do it, let’s do it, let’s do it

        ‘Cause I gotta feeling, woohoo, that tonight’s gonna be a good night
        That tonight’s gonna be a good night
        That tonight’s gonna be a good, good night

        A feeling, woohoo, that tonight’s gonna be a good night
        That tonight’s gonna be a good night
        That tonight’s gonna be a good, good night

        1. You don’t post very often, but you make them count.

          1. I am disgusted with the surveillance state.

            But I am not naive enough to think it began in Jan 2009.

            1. But… CHANGE! and FORWARD!

              Nothing changed, FORWARD should have been REWIND.

              1. But… CHANGE! and FORWARD!

                My favorite aspect of the Obama presidency is watching liberals who claimed that he would totally change our political system for the better start arguing that we shouldn’t criticize him too much because he’s better than someone they said was a Nazi.

                1. Or because he’s the same as someone they said was a Nazi.

            2. I’m pretty sure I posted 2007 in my comment about the article so I don’t see how anyone would think it began on president Obama’s watch. I don’t see anyone here making that claim.

              1. Shrieky believes that if a comment doesn’t end with “fuck Bush”, then the commenter is automatically a Bush supporter. Yes, he is that deranged.

                1. Bizarre. I would think that I could criticize a sitting POTUS without having to examine everyone before him to see if they did it too, thus making the current one inculpable.

            3. So uh, why didn’t Obama *stop* it?

              He’s had 4+ years to make it right.

            4. What you gon’ do with all that junk?
              All that junk inside your trunk?
              I’ma get, get, get, get, you drunk,
              Get you love drunk off my hump.
              My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump,
              My hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely little lumps (Check it out)

              I drive these brothers crazy,
              I do it on the daily,
              They treat me really nicely,
              They buy me all these ices.
              Dolce & Gabbana,
              Fendi and that Donna
              Karan, they be sharin’
              All their money got me wearin’ fly
              Brother I ain’t askin,
              They say they love my ass ‘n,
              Seven Jeans, True Religion’s,
              I say no, but they keep givin’
              So I keep on takin’
              And no I ain’t taken
              We can keep on datin’
              I keep on demonstrating.

              1. Why must you punish us for PB?

                1. It’s a legit question, which one is more retarded? I haven’t been able to come to a conclusion yet.

                  1. Shriek is more of a weird mental tic or obsession mixed in with a fair bit of retardation. Whereas the Black Eyed Peas are just pure retard. So I go with Black Eyed Peas.

            5. Palin’s Buttplug| 6.6.13 @ 7:09PM |#
              “I am disgusted with the surveillance state.”

              You miserable stinking piece of shit, you think your lies are going to fly here?

      2. I’m not sure if the fake scandal comment is sarc. However bush is what helped me find the libertarian party. I kept thinking there must be a better option. Now I didn’t support his administrations abuse of civil liberties. Why would I support those same abuses from Obama?

        1. That is a great question.

          Answer – it takes a concerted effort to pass anti-liberty laws. The GOP excels at this practice. Take the horrible Patriot Act – which took a GOP POTUS, a climate of fear, and a sorry-ass opposition party (Dems) to enact.

          No way the Patriot Act is proposed and passed under a President Gore.

          1. No way the Patriot Act is proposed and passed under a President Gore.

            It would have been proposed, but I agree that Gore might not have passed it. I actually think you might be right about that. Of course, he would have passed some bizarre environmental regs that would have us even deeper in an economic hole.

            1. Didn’t Joe Biden author something very similar to the PATRIOT Act in response to the OKC bombing? So, really, Vice President Gore would have gone along with it if it wasn’t for those evil Republicans from the ’95 Congress.

            2. Gore wouldn’t have had a choice. After 9/11, the Patriot Act still would have been passed by a veto-proof majority, and in any case, Gore wouldn’t want to look “weak on terror.”

          2. So why Renee and expand the patriot act. It takes no effort to let it expire?

            1. Renew. I don’t know renee

              1. Government never relinquishes power.

                Best scenario = Dem POTUS and GOP House. Nothing gets done. Total gridlock. Gridlock is the best you can ask for.

                1. So you are going to join the GOP to take the senate? Does that make you part of the conservative movement?

                2. Palin’s Buttplug| 6.6.13 @ 7:25PM |#
                  “Government never relinquishes power.”

                  Bush did it too!

          3. Yeah, they would’ve just straight up amended away the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 9th, and 10th Amendments.

          4. No way the Patriot Act is proposed and passed under a President Gore.


          5. Palin’s Buttplug| 6.6.13 @ 7:13PM …”No way the Patriot Act is proposed and passed under a President Gore.”

            Yeah, cause he’s gotten fat enough he can’t get to the desk.
            Other than that, WIH does an ignorant hypothetical have to do with anything other than proving you’re an ignoramus?

          6. That’s a crock of shit. Firstly, the DOJ wanted it for decades, they were the driving force, and no common president or Congressman would tell them no after 9/11. And it’s not like the Clinton administration had a good track record on privacy or civil liberties. FBI files, Clipper Chip, COPA, Waco, etc.

            1. The Clinton Administration tried to push through much of what was later passed in USA Patriot. It failed because a lot of opposition from advocacy groups, banks, etc.

    2. Too late for DOJ to rethink those AP wiretaps, huh?

    3. Lets hope as more individuals with dirty laundry become alienated from the system, the whole thing shit snowballs into a vast amount of people with info, or the means to aquire sensitive incriminating information on the US GOV, publically leaking that evidence.

      I look forward to the day the whole country shows up in DC, and refuses to leave until the area is fumigated for cockroaches.

      I hear they have a real bug problem up in there.

  10. When can we build a guillotine next to the Washington Monument and let the terror begin? Tar and Feathers isn’t going to cut it, heads need to roll right down the hill and into the pond.

    1. I think the guillotine will be for us, not the politicians. Careful what you wish for.

    2. Yes because the Reign of Terror was such an oasis of liberty.

      1. Libert?, ?galit?, fraternit?

        Come on, they tried to brand it as a liberty movement. I promise not to go all Robespierre with the head chopping, and I do volunteer to be the wise dictator after all of the right heads are chopped.

        It’ll be a hoot swinging Pelosi’s head around by the hair. You know it would be.

        1. I don’t support proactive violence in general but you’ve got me listening with the pelosi head thing.

          1. I’m not sure she’ll look much different post mortem.

            1. You mean she’s NOT a zombie already?

          2. We could hang the most vile heads on a big wrack and bang em together like those silver ball things. Something for the children to enjoy.

            1. Newton’s head cradle?

          3. What would be proactive about it? They knew of the illegal government activity and did nothing to stop it.

            1. Well I guess if we had a trial first my conscience could be soothed.

  11. My favorite part of this idiocy comes today from Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL). He was asking Holder if the NSA was harvesting Congress’s phone records too, and of course Holder answered with “Uh, the dog ate my homework”.

    See here-


    What makes this question so annoying is that what difference does it make if it’s Congress or private citizens? Does the 4th amendment state that Congress gets extra protection from illegal search and seizure?

    No, it does not.

    1. Who gives a fuck about the peons? Kirk just wants to know if his emails to his transexual dominatrix got picked up.

      1. How did you know about my relationship with Mark Kirk?

        1. Because when I was at your place for our session, I went into your computer and downloaded all your emails. By the way, you’ll be receiving a blackmail note in the mail any day now.

          Bender: There’s nothing wrong with murder, so long as you let Bender wet his beak.

          Leela: You’re blackmailing me?!?

          Bender: Blackmail is such an ugly word. I prefer “extortion.” The “X” makes it sound cool.

        2. How did you know about my relationship with Mark Kirk?

          I think the question answers itself….we….all the other full and part time members of the commentariat are with the NSA or Homeland Security.

          Now about those photos……..

      2. Darlita Fantastico? Mistress Aronia?

        1. It’s your mom.

      3. I wish Holder would’ve have answered-“Well, Congressman surely it doesn’t matter because none of you have anything to hide, right?”

    2. At least now we have an idea that perhaps PRISIM found some child porn in Lindsey Graham’s account and that’s why he is such a douche nozzle. I don’t know if it is true, but clearly it is possible that Graham not only likes child porn but also has abused many children.

      In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he and Harry Reid are co-chairs of the Senate Pederasty Club.

      I hope he can clear this hope and I’m simply mistaken.

        1. I clicked and I fucking hate you.

          1. Yeah thanks RBS. You owe me one bottle of bleach.

        2. Lindsey Graham

          Why is Clay Aiken is his BVDs?

        3. SC is one of the 2 states that I’ve already chosen as possible for retirement, which for me, is not that far off.

          If the residents of SC cannot primary this POS out of Congress before my move, I guess TN is my state of choice, because I really don’t want to live around folks who are that fucking stupid. Of course, TN does have Lamar Alexander, but hopefully he’s going down in a chokehold.

          1. Here’s a good reason to pick Tennessee-

            Recently the ABC show Nashville tried to squeeze the city to kick out some more tax dollars by threatening to take the production of the show back to LA instead of leaving it here in town.

            The city said go piss up a rope. I know about 40 people who would be immediately unemployed for a few days if this happened, but even they agreed that it would be stupid to pay them to film here.

            There are some good peeps in Tennessee.

          2. I live in SC and can almost guarantee he will get primaried.

  12. … the only members of Congress who know about PRISM were bound by oaths of office to hold their tongues.

    And who are these fine members of Congress and when can we start impeachment hearings?

    1. I wasn’t aware that the oath to defend the Constitution required disobeying the Constitution.

  13. The Post notes this program’s historical roots in the 70s, when the NSA teamed up with up to 100 U.S. companies in the 1970s for “Special Sources Operations,” and in the Bush era warrantless surveillance program.


    1. Yes. I’ve said this already. But I guess it does bear repeating.

      1. Yes, but it has irony coming from me.

        The conservatives here (Sevo, John, Red Rocks, wareagle, Suthenboy, etc) use it as deflection to distract attention from the colossal failures of Dubya.

        1. ……use it as deflection to distract attention from the colossal failures of Dubya.

          Nonsense! They use it to direct attention to the ongoing failures and civil liberties violations of your mancrush!

          PS: CHRISTFAG

        2. Yeah, like that really resolves you of the responsibility for sucking Obamas ballz on a daily basis.

          1. Well he does like those salty chocolate balls

          2. Sorry, I keep forgetting to add you to the list of Santorum loving SoCons – you homophobe.

            1. So why renew and expand the patriot act? Letting it expire takes no effort.

            2. Palin’s Buttplug| 6.6.13 @ 7:20PM |#
              “Sorry, I keep forgetting to add you to the list of Santorum loving SoCons – you homophobe.”

              You sleazy piece of shit, you’re still claiming this asshole is somehow better than Bush?
              Go fuck your daddy, dipshit.

            3. Gotta get-get, gotta get-get
              Gotta get-get, gotta g-g-g-get-get-get, get-get

              Boom boom boom, gotta get-get
              Boom boom boom, gotta get-get
              Boom boom boom, gotta get-get
              Boom boom boom, gotta get-get

              Boom boom boom, now
              Boom boom boom, now
              Boom boom pow
              Boom boom

              Yo, I got that hit that beat the block
              You can get that bass overload
              I got the that rock and roll
              That future flow

              That digital spit
              Next level visual shit
              I got that boom boom pow
              How the beat bang, boom boom pow

              I like that boom boom pow
              Them chickens jackin’ my style
              They try copy my swagger
              I’m on that next shit now

              I’m so 3008
              You so 2000 and late
              I got that boom, boom, boom
              That future boom, boom, boom
              Let me get it now

        3. Palin’s Buttplug| 6.6.13 @ 7:06PM |#
          “The conservatives here (Sevo”

          Prove it, you lying pile of shit.

          1. I think he’s talking about your war boner.

            1. “I think he’s talking about your war boner.”

              Cute, Z, but you misspelled Zakalwe.

  14. The conspiracy theorists must be having a field day.

    It isn’t a conspiracy theory anymore.

    1. I never considered this a “conspiracy theory”. I was wondering why the mainstream media were not reporting on the information that was already there.

  15. It’s all over but the shouting. Only incompetence can save us now.

    1. We’re doomed.

  16. But, don’t listen to those cynical voices…

    1. Because we know exactly who those cynical assholes are and the IRS is on the way to audit them right now…

  17. They aren’t “stretching their legal powers”. They’re breaking the law.

  18. I missed #3 and #8 on the quiz.

  19. Heise reported a few weeks ago that Microsoft evidently listens in to Skype traffic and then tries to access HTTPS URLs referenced in Skype traffic:


  20. The new talking point on the lefty Chron comments is:
    ‘Cons didn’t credit Obama with killing Bin Laden, so you can’t blame him for this!’
    I swear: http://www.sfgate.com/business…..581425.php

  21. So how long before “Prism” is used by the IRS, FBI, etc for investigation into taxes, kiddie porn, adult porn, drugs, banking,…..

    Just like RICO this is going to all end very,very badly.

  22. I can’t wait to watch the MSM news broadcasts tonight.

    I’m gonna watch The News Hour on PBS.


    1. If I understand the Deniers correctly, Bush was apparently a great Democratic president.

      1. Well, he certainly set the standards for the chosen one to follow and improve on!

      2. What, at this point, is the difference?

  23. Honestly, what percentage of people bitching and moaning about this today would have no problem if the current Commander in Chief had an (R) next to his name?

    I know a few. Tribalism sucks.

  24. Why is this coming as a shock to so many people? The NSA fusion centers have been known about for years. Last year the CIA chief bragged about how they are going to spy on you through your dishwasher for god’s sake.


    We can fight back though. Don’t use any of the services listed. Use Tor browser and the deep web. Use PGP (it’s easy) when sending email. Use bitcoins and other alt currencies. Use startpage.com instead of google. Don’t do these things because you have “something to hide”, do it because the government has no right to spy on us.

  25. This looks suspicious: “PRISM Program Cost ~ $20M per year”

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.