Microsoft, Google, Facebook Unite Against NSA

Dennis Faas's picture

Some of the world's biggest technology companies say they're not happy about revelations involving the National Security Agency (NSA) and data collection. The firms are forming a united front in a quest to create greater transparency around this kind of surveillance.

Last week whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the National Security Agency had been using a controversial surveillance program known as PRISM to spy on users of major Internet programs and services.

This included users of products provided by Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype, America Online, and Apple.

Facebook, Microsoft, Google Join Forces

Now, three of those firms -- Facebook, Microsoft, and Google -- have joined forces to press the United States government to be clearer about how this data collection works. (Source:

According to a Microsoft spokesperson, being transparent is a critical part of maintaining a healthy online community.

"Permitting greater transparency on the aggregate volume and scope of national security requests, including FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) orders, would help the community understand and debate these important issues," the spokesperson said.

Facebook general counsel Ted Ullyot supported that point, insisting that Facebook "strongly encourage[s] all governments to be much more transparent about all programs aimed at keeping the public safe." (Source:

Ullyot also noted that Facebook would "welcome the opportunity" to cooperate with the government towards releasing a transparency report that clearly shows how the PRISM program affects Facebook users.

"We urge the United States government to help make that possible by allowing companies to include information about the size and scope of national security requests we receive, and look forward to publishing a report that includes that information," Ullyot added.

Tech Firms Deny Knowledge of PRISM Program

Meanwhile, Google chief legal officer David Drummond said that "transparency here will likewise serve the public interest without harming national security."

Google chief executive officer Larry Page offered support for that point.

All three firms are therefore making it clear to their users that they had little or no knowledge of the NSA's collection of data through the PRISM program.

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