US tech firms knew about and assisted with PRISM data collection

In a testimony before the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, the NSA general council Rajesh De and his colleague stated on Wednesday that the tech companies that denied giving access to user data via the PRISM program were, in fact, lying.

The Guardian reports that De confirmed that the companies knew about the PRISM collection program and the so-called “upstream” collection of communications moving across the internet – that the data collection took place with the “full knowledge and assistance of any company from which information is obtained.”

He also shared that data collection under PRISM was “a compulsory legal process, that any recipient company would receive,” and that “PRISM was an internal government term that as the result of leaks became the public term,” meaning that some of the companies that said they never heard of PRISM before the revelation might have been telling the truth.

In defense of the companies involved – Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Apple, AOL, YouTube, Skype and PalTalk – it’s likely they were and still are legally barred from acknowledging the existence and their participation in the program, but that’s not something that will bring comfort their users.