Microsoft and Yahoo push for Prism transparency
By Shona Ghosh
Posted on 17 Jul 2013 at 09:05
Microsoft and Yahoo are pushing US officials to ease restrictions that stop them discussing the National Security Agency’s controversial data gathering operation, Prism.
Along with Apple, Yahoo and other major tech companies, the two firms have been accused of giving the NSA "direct access" to user information, such as emails and Skype calls. All have denied the accusations, but gagging orders prevent any of the firms addressing the allegations in any technical detail.
Redmond has written to the US attorney general, Eric Holder, calling on him to lift the gagging order that stops the firm detailing government requests for data.
Microsoft made a similar request to the secret court overseeing the data requests last month, asking for permission to spell out how many requests related to standard criminal investigations, and how many came from the NSA.
"Numerous documents are now in the public domain. As a result, there is no longer a compelling government interest in stopping those of us with knowledge from sharing more information," wrote Microsoft’s general counsel, Bradford Smith.
Smith slammed the government for its apparent slowness in responding to requests for greater transparency and said the delays were damaging to the US Constitution.
"This opposition and these delays are serving poorly the public, the government itself, and most importantly, the Constitutional principles that we all put first and foremost," he said.
Secret documents declassified
Yahoo, meanwhile, has won a legal fight meaning papers detailing Prism from a 2008 court case will be declassified.
In the 2008 case, Yahoo vigorously challenged the NSA’s broad surveillance proposals but was overruled in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). The case is seen as pivotal to Prism’s establishment, and Yahoo has said the papers will demonstrate how the US government legally justified its broad surveillance plans.
"Once those documents are made public, we believe they will contribute constructively to the ongoing public discussion around online privacy," said the firm.
- Google Glass: mugger bait, pub problem and other lessons learned from two dangerous weeks
- Twitter, please don't fiddle with my feed
- How Satya Nadella can get some pay-raise karma
- Windows 10: a step back to go forward
- Michael Dell: Cloud infrastructure is the roads, bridges and highways of the 21st century
- How to check your identity hasn’t been sold to the hackers
- Tim Cook: this is how much TV has changed since the 70s
- Westminster wins the .London battle
- 20 years of PC Pro: from deep pan pizza to virtualisation
- Five reasons why the Apple Watch leaves me cold
- How to write your company's IT security policy
- The key to choosing a secure password
- Please stop reposting fake Facebook messages
- Is Facebook safe for business?
- Don't rely on Chrome's password vault
- Facebook Graph Search: don't panic
- Gmail drafts and Pastebin: could they evade the email snoops?
- Applying for a job at GCHQ? Here's your plain-text password
- Google two-step verification: a must for business email
- Yes, I write down my passwords