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#Public Sector

NSA Lawyer: Tech giants knew about NSA’s data collection

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The general counsel for the National Security Agency (NSA) dismissed criticism within the tech community on Wednesday, stating that Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and other tech giants knew about the data collection.

The NSA’s top lawyer claims that the US tech companies were well aware of the existence of the Internet surveillance program PRISM, they just didn’t know it was called.

According to the Guardian’s report, NSA general counsel Rajesh De, said in a hearing of the US government’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), that data collection under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, was carried out with the “full knowledge and assistance of any company from which information is obtained.”

“PRISM was an internal government term that as the result of leaks became the public term,” De told the privacy board in Washington. “Collection under this program was a compulsory legal process that any recipient company would receive.”

Back in June, PRISM was exposed to the public, when Snowden leaked the classified documents. The companies concerned in the program – including AOL, Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Yahoo – immediately offered fierce denials on any knowledge about the NSA’s access to customer data.

The tech giants have been sharply criticising the intelligence agency. Just a week back, the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg called US President Barack Obama about the issue.

However, De claimed that the tech companies knew about the program by another name, as PRISM was just an internal codename until the whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked it to the public. He also explained that once user data is collected under FISA court permission, surveillance analysts should be able to search it.

De repeated to The Guardian that “All 702 collection is pursuant to court directives, so they have to know.”