The National Security Agency (NSA) has direct access to user data from Google, Facebook, and Apple among others, according to a report in the Guardian, by Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill, James Ball, and Dominic Rushe.
The NSA access is part of a government initiative dubbed Prism, and the newspaper report, based on a top secret document, dated April 2013, is accompanied by the picture of a slide depicting the program. The Guardian says it has verified the authenticity of the document. Prism is believed to cost taxpayers around $20 million a year.
The picture includes icons of Gmail, Facebook, Yahoo, Hotmail, Google, Apple, YouTube, Skype, AOL and PalTalk. The 41-slide PowerPoint presentation claims ‘collection directly from servers’, says Guardian. Data collected include emails, chats (voice/video), photos, stored data, VoIP, file transfers, video conferencing, logins etc., and online social networking details, among other things.
GCHQ, Britain’s equivalent of the NSA, also appears to have been gathering intelligence from these companies through the NSA operations, says the report.
The disclosure follows a leak of a court order compelling Verizon to turn over telephone records of its customers to the government.
[Image courtesy: NSA]