Scott Budman reports on Pres. Obama's defense of the practice of the government going after phone metadata. This as Silicon Valley tech companies took pains to distance themselves from PRISM all together.
Google CEO Larry Page and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg are denying reports linking the Internet search company to a secret government program that has provided the National Security Agency access to email and other personal information transmitted on various online services.
One denied a connection via a blog and the other a timeline post.
In a post on the Google blog titled "What the...?" Page said the company hasn't joined any government program allowing the NSA to mine its computers for personal data about users of its search engine, Gmail service or YouTube video service.
"First, we have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government—or any other government—direct access to our servers. Indeed, the U.S. government does not have direct access or a “back door” to the information stored in our data centers. We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday," the post read in part.
Page's assertion contradicts reports published late Thursday by The Washington Post and The Guardian tying Google Inc. and six other technology companies to a clandestine snooping program code named PRISM.
In his post co-written with Google's top lawyer, Page wrote that any suggestion that Google is giving user information on a broad scale is "completely false.''
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave his emphatic denial on his personal Facebook timeline saying Facebook has never received a blanket request asking for metadata.
Here's Zuckerberg's post:
I want to respond personally to the outrageous press reports about PRISM:
Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the US or any other government direct access to our servers. We have never received a blanket request or court order from any government agency asking for information or metadata in bulk, like the one Verizon reportedly received. And if we did, we would fight it aggressively. We hadn't even heard of PRISM before yesterday.
When governments ask Facebook for data, we review each request carefully to make sure they always follow the correct processes and all applicable laws, and then only provide the information if is required by law. We will continue fighting aggressively to keep your information safe and secure.
We strongly encourage all governments to be much more transparent about all programs aimed at keeping the public safe. It's the only way to protect everyone's civil liberties and create the safe and free society we all want over the long term.