Taxpayer Money Used to Cover PRISM Compliance Costs
Posted on Aug 23, 2013
Top-secret material passed to The Guardian shows that the National Security Agency paid millions of dollars to help major Internet companies such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook cover the cost of certification for participating in the PRISM surveillance program.
The companies incurred the costs as a result of meeting demands stipulated in an October 2011 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s ruling that some of the agency’s activities were unconstitutional. The judgment, which found that the NSA’s inability to separate domestic communications from foreign traffic violated the Fourth Amendment, was declassified by the Obama administration Wednesday.
Since the existence of the PRISM program was revealed June 6, the companies have repeatedly denied knowing about it and insisted they hand over user data only in cases in which authorities make specific legal requests.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
Ewen MacAskill at The Guardian:
While the ruling did not concern the Prism program directly, documents passed to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden describe the problems the decision created for the agency and the efforts required to bring operations into compliance. The material provides the first evidence of a financial relationship between the tech companies and the NSA.
The intelligence agency requires the Fisa court to sign annual “certifications” that provide the legal framework for surveillance operations. But in the wake of the court judgment these were only being renewed on a temporary basis while the agency worked on a solution to the processes that had been ruled illegal.
An NSA newsletter entry, marked top secret and dated December 2012, discloses the huge costs this entailed. “Last year’s problems resulted in multiple extensions to the certifications’ expiration dates which cost millions of dollars for Prism providers to implement each successive extension – costs covered by Special Source Operations,” it says.
Robert Scoble (CC BY 2.0)