Last week I reported on the burning issue of today – data mining by the largest US companies Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter. Two weeks ago these companies all called on the government to allow them to publish more details about the nature and number of requests for information they receive. So according to The New York Times the companies had received thousands of requests from federal, state and local authorities for customer data between 1 December 2012 and 31 May 2013. Nevertheless, they denied giving any personal information of their customers in response to the requests.
Connections between companies and spy agencies.
Although facts provided by the New York Times later the same week speak to the contrary and support the guesses of the international community and Americans, that convergence between Silicon Valley and the N.S.A. does exist and the data mining is rising. For axample, Chief security officer of Facebook who left the company in 2010 later joined the National Security Agency. Silicon Valley is great source of information for the spy agency: it operates great amounts of private data and has the most sophisticated software available to analyze it. The article argues that in order to get access to the latest software technology and to take advantage of large volumes of data, United States intelligence agencies invest in Silicon Valley start-ups, award classified contracts and recruit technology experts like Facebook former chief security officer Mr. Kelly.
Is data mining only a current issue or it should be examined as a long-term phenomenon?
Although the topic is so much discussed only in the last couple of months, it seems to be be there for about six years already. The N.S.A.’s internet-based surveillance program PRISM was founded in 2007.The Guardian claims, PRISM began with data from Microsoft in 2007. The program began collecting data from Yahoo in 2008 and from Google, Facebook and the message system PalTalk in 2009, followed by YouTube, Skype and Apple. However, most of those companies now deny any knowledge that a programm like PRISM exists.
What information is being collected?
U.S. officials have acknowledged collecting domestic telephone records containing the time and date of calls and telephone numbers involved, as well as rough location information.
The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with NSA activities, claimed that the agency has also collected credit card records, without clarifying if it is continuing or was a one-time effort.
However, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper reassured Americans saying that the telephone records go into a database, where they can’t be accessed unless a judge gives the go-ahead in a national-security investigation.
Are these action legal?
It is a highly controversial topic if these actions of the US Government can be considered legal. The senators wrote “As we see it, there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows”.