"The hottest new club in New York is PRISM. It has EVERYTHING: your name, your email, your phone number, your Google search about hobbits…"— Caitlin Kelly (@atotalmonet) June 7, 2013
Two different versions of the PRISM scandal were emerging on Thursday with Silicon Valley executives denying all knowledge of the top secret program that gives the National Security Agency direct access to the internet giants’ servers.
The eavesdropping program is detailed in the form of PowerPoint slides in a leaked NSA document, seen and authenticated by the Guardian, which states that it is based on “legally-compelled collection” but operates with the “assistance of communications providers in the US.”
Each of the 41 slides in the document displays prominently the corporate logos of the tech companies claimed to be taking part in PRISM.
However, senior executives from the internet companies expressed surprise and shock and insisted that no direct access to servers had been offered to any government agency.
The top-secret NSA briefing presentation set out details of the PRISM program, which it said granted access to records such as emails, chat conversations, voice calls, documents and more. The presentation the listed dates when document collection began for each company, and said PRISM enabled “direct access from the servers of these US service providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Paltalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple”.
Senior officials with knowledge of the situation within the tech giants admitted to being confused by the NSA revelations, and said if such data collection was taking place, it was without companies’ knowledge.
But what would happen in a regulation-free vacuum — essentially the wild west of the communications world — if the nation’s largest telecom company is allowed to operate with impunity? So far, public officials are not asking that question because they’re too busy praising AT&T’s announcements of billions of dollars of investment in new wireless broadband networks, supported with funds from President Barack Obama’s National Broadband Plan.
Because IP networks are regulated differently, they are not subject to rules that encourage universal access by making low-cost options available in under-served communities. The FCC also does not yet have rules for what reasonable exchange costs are with Internet-based communications.
Rules governing the networks that make landlines work prevent AT&T from telling smaller companies that connection exchange rates will suddenly double or triple for calls coming onto AT&T’s network. Without such regulation, AT&T could run an abusive monopoly with these exchange charges, leaving smaller carriers with no choice but to pay up and pass costs onto consumers. This means AT&T’s plan has the potential to drive up prices and drive down competition.
Since when is the FBI available (for anyone with the right social connections) as a private troll-uncloaking cyber police force?
Do you have any idea how hard it is to get the FBI to take action on an actual online death threat case, if the recipient isn’t a well-connected “honorary ambassador” in the military social elite? The short version: it simply does not happen. This whole story smells.
As former Wired News reporter Ryan Singel tweeted, “If the Broadwell/Petraeus case doesn’t show how ridiculous the FBI’s powers are, I don’t know what will prove it to you.”
The church has sent an email to followers instructing them on how “to counter free speech on the internet,” according to former Scientologist and current anti-Scientologist blogger Marty Rathbun, who posted the email message in its entirely on his blog.
The message instructs followers to visit media sites, including Microsoft, Google, or any other that requires users to agree to a code of conduct that prohibits comments that threaten, defame, or degrade any group or individuals.