PRISM Not Used to Target US Citizens: Spy Chief

Companies firmly deny involvement in PRISM

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 7, 2013 3:11 AM CDT | Updated Jun 7, 2013 5:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – As news of the government's PRISM tech surveillance program makes waves, officials and companies are responding, with the Director of National Intelligence attempting to put the story in perspective. "The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans," James Clapper said in a statement, per USA Today. He said the program has clear "limits": "It cannot be used to intentionally target any US citizen, any other US person, or anyone located within the United States."

Clapper said he would declassify records regarding the program so that Americans could better understand it. Meanwhile, major tech companies reportedly involved are issuing firm denials they were aware of it; if the government is taking information, it's doing so in secret, they say, per the Guardian. In a statement, Apple said it had "never heard of PRISM"; executives at other top firms made similar comments, both on and off the record, the Guardian reports.

  • From Google: "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."
  • "We provide customer data only when we receive a legally binding order or subpoena to do so, and never on a voluntary basis," said Microsoft. Facebook echoed the comment.
  • And an unnamed tech executive: "We receive requests for information all the time. Say about a potential terrorist threat or after the Boston bombing. But we have systems in place for that."

In this March 12, 2013, file photo Director of National Intelligence (DNI), James Clapper, listens to testimony at the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington.
In this March 12, 2013, file photo Director of National Intelligence (DNI), James Clapper, listens to testimony at the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
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