Up until now we’ve been led to believe that it was sealed warrants that allowed the NSA, through the Prism Program, access to your emails and other data stored on the servers of the largest US ISPs. ¬†Last Wednesday a declassified document added insult to injury, showing that not only is your information being stored and possibly looked at, your taxpayer dollars are funding the payments sent to Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and others to fund this surveillance program.
The declassified NSA newsletter say, “Last year’s problems resulted in multiple extensions to the certifications’ expiration dates which cost millions of dollars for Prism providers to implement each successive extension – costs covered by Special Source Operations.” ¬† The Special Source Operations is a part of the government and like all parts of government is funded by taxpayer dollars, so your taxpayer dollars were funding them snooping on you. ¬†Now if that doesn’t feel like a kick in the teeth we’re not sure what will.
The Guardian, who first broke the story, contacted the technology companies involved for comment. ¬†Yahoo’s comment was “federal law requires the US government to reimburse providers for costs incurred to respond to compulsory legal process imposed by the government. We have requested reimbursement consistent with the law.” ¬†Facebook’s comment stated “…never received any compensation in connection with responding to a government data request.” ¬†Perhaps someone should check with Facebook with what their definition of compensation is… ¬†Google’s response was more of an avoidance of the question, “We await the US government’s response to our petition to publish more national security request data, which will show that our compliance with American national security laws falls far short of the wild claims still being made in the press today.” ¬†Microsoft initially declined to comment, but later said, “Microsoft only complies with court orders because it is legally ordered to, not because it is reimbursed for the work. We could have a more informed discussion of these issues if providers could share additional information.”
Another NSA newsletter appears to make it clear that Google has been a participant in the PRISM program, “All Prism providers, except Yahoo and Google, were successfully transitioned to the new certification. We expect Yahoo and Google to complete transitioning by Friday 6 October.”
So there you have it, a little at a time more and more information is leaking out about the PRISM Program and it’s many implications – security, privacy, limits or lack there of on warrants, and now your taxpayer dollars.