They 'Bristled,' but Google, Facebook Did Help Feds

NYT: No direct access to servers, but something like a 'locked mailbox'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 8, 2013 12:32 PM CDT

(Newser) – Mark Zuckerberg, Google's Larry Page, and other tech executives have been loudly denying they gave the government "direct access" to their servers under the newly revealed PRISM program. ("We hadn't even heard of PRISM before yesterday," wrote Zuckerberg in his post. The "government does not have direct access or a 'back door' to the information stored in our data centers," wrote Page in his post. "We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday.") But the companies say they did comply with court orders to hand over information, and the New York Times today digs into the semantics of the cooperation between the feds and the companies:

  • "(I)instead of adding a back door to their servers, the companies were essentially asked to erect a locked mailbox and give the government the key," writes Claire Cain Miller, citing sources briefed on the negotiations. "Facebook, for instance, built such a system for requesting and sharing the information."

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In fact, of all the tech companies approached, only Twitter declined to make it easier for the government to get data. The rest "bristled" but complied to varying degrees, says the story, which includes this:

  • "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."
Click for the full story. (Read more PRISM stories.)

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