Leaked NSA slide-deck claims that NSA has "direct access" to servers at Google, Apple, Facebook, Skype, Yahoo, and many others


149 Responses to “Leaked NSA slide-deck claims that NSA has "direct access" to servers at Google, Apple, Facebook, Skype, Yahoo, and many others”

  1. Lloyd Fonvielle says:

    Hey, Barry — stop tracking my Internet activity.  It’s unconstitutional and just plain wrong.  (NSA please forward . . .)

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      He reads BB comments. He admitted it publicly.

      • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

        Shame he doesn’t seem to take any of it to heart.

      • Cowicide says:

        He reads BB comments. He admitted it publicly.

        Yes, but he says a lot of things, doesn’t he?  Do you have any evidence in the IP logs that the White House ever comes in for a visit?

        Hey, Obama! I call bullshit. If you’re here reading this, make an account, stop lurking like a scaredy-cat and prove it with some posts.

        If there was ever a thread to prove you’re a brave, stand-up man, this would be the it.

        • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

          How about you give us some HOPE that we can get some CHANGE and end this war on citizens.

      • awesomerobot says:

        Which likely means he may have seen a few comments once… maybe. 

      • Akeldama says:

        Here’s a couple of quotes he might be interested in then…

    • Paul Gregoire says:

      Last time I checked, “Barry” was not incharge when this all started. The patriot act (Bush) however did apparently make this all legal. :(

      • TJC62 says:

         The Patriot act started under Bush, but Obama has expanded it beyond what it was intended for.

        • Sigmund_Jung says:

          Who said it was not intended for what it is now?

        • Ramone says:

          Has he actually expanded it? Or did he just continue it? (Not trolling, I genuinely am asking.)

          • TJC62 says:

             It began monitoring international communications only. The FISA court (Foreign Intelligence Surveilance Act) over saw it. It has now been expanded to include all domestic communications.

      • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

        Last time I looked he was supposed to be in charge, commander in chief or some shit… if he tells them to stop, pretty sure it stops.

        • john moritz says:

          You must live in Colorado or Washington. In four years a President passes by. The NSA – like your emails – lives forever. There will be no turning back. Just back stepping. I have just registered with the opposed camp and made the short list at the NSA.

  2. Lloyd Fonvielle says:

    Hey, Barry — stop tracking my Internet activity.  It’s unconstitutional and just plain wrong.  (NSA please forward . . .) 

  3. bzishi says:

    I think these companies are parsing the definition of “direct access” in their denials. Do they have technicians on site who have root access to the servers? Or do they have NSA software running on the servers? Or do they have proprietary software built to NSA specifications running on the servers that then connect to NSA servers? Each of these is a different definition of “direct access”. And by using these different definitions, the companies can deny the claims, while still giving what any layman would consider direct access.

  4. Napalm Dog says:

    Where can I download my copy of Prism? I’d love to see who our government has been calling and what they’ve been googling…

    • tw1515tw says:

      It looks like you need to call Palanitir to get your copy http://www.businessinsider.com/prism-is-also-the-name-of-a-product-from-palantir-a-5-billion-tech-startup-funded-by-the-cia-2013-6

  5. Tueksta says:

    I’m more scared by the fact that they still use slides that look like it’s 1997… o_O

  6. That_Anonymous_Coward says:

    So in other words I should do what I’ve been doing fighting copyright trolls and fight my government. 
    I don’t think its a fair fight, they have no idea what they are in for.

    • peregrinus says:

      Power, Money, Sex.

      • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

        You might want to see what happened to Evan Stone and is happening to Prenda and John Steele et al.

        • peregrinus says:

          On your side.  I meant that’s what they’re in it for.

          I’m joyous about the hell John Steele faces.  He’s one facet on the drilling tip destroying the American landscape.

  7. Lord Humongous says:

    The gov’ment likes acronyms.  I wonder what’s the full name of PRISM

  8. Colmanetg says:

    As a foreigner, I find this hysterically funny. The debate in the US doesn’t even give a moment’s thought to the idea that we might be entitled to any privacy, the empire can do whatever the fuck it likes with our communications, but the poor little Imperial citizens mustn’t suffer. And seriously, what the blazes did they think the intelligence services were doing? 

    • peregrinus says:

      Multiple issues for foreigners - 
      If the US takes an Orwellian curve, they could deny you access to the US if they suspect you’re anti-US government.  They could question you on arrival if they feel you’ve been spreading sedition (lots of comments on BB would qualify if you were an authoritarian regime!)

      If they access those servers, they’ll be accessing international traffic as well – of course.

      The early-mid 20th century dystopian writers had this totally covered.  There is a menacing aspect to human behaviour that breeds and grows the more power there is to secretively surveille.  Once you have adequate coverage, influence, and strength of enforcement agencies, like Mugabe, you flip the switch and take total, utter, inevitably violent, control.

    • Gulliver says:

      That’s an awfully big beam in your eye. Our fates are intertwined. Still funny?

      • Colmanetg says:

        Hilarious. The NSA and friends have been doing this to us for years, and this is what they’re meant to be doing. It’s sort of cute that the Americans didn’t think they’d be done too. 

        • Gulliver says:

          Enjoy your laugh, because you haven’t got long. This isn’t a coup by any one country’s IC; this is a coup by the global power elite, and your neighbors are letting it happen as surely as mine.

  9. Frederik says:

    Seatec Astronomy

  10. Cowicide says:

    Fantastic quote from Danny O’Brien.  Thank you, Cory.

  11. euansmith says:

    That is one ugly looking presentation. Not just the information, the layout is obscene. 

  12. RElgin says:

    America has devolved from being a unique brand into a generic flavor.
    A very mediocre and a poor example, indeed.

  13. I find it a little ironic that all of this concern about the Government tapping into our private electronic business is coming out now. Wasn’t this the issue when the Patriot Act was first rammed down our throats? It hilarious to see senators saying that they’re shocked that all of this surveilance is happening when they signed off on it themselves, and according Sen. Feinstein, have discussed it for years in multiple committees.

    I recently downloaded the Cars.com app com onto my Android. For some reason, I decided to look at the User Ageement before I signed it. It maintains the right to track any phone calls made on my device to any of the phone numbers listed by automobile manufacturers and dealers , including specific phone numbers, time of day, duration, etc. I’m sure Cars. com is not the only commercial enterprise to do so. We have bartered our privacy for the commercial conveniences that electronic marketers have set in their mouse traps. (I removed the Cars.com app, by the way.)

    The fact is there is no privacy in electronic communication. To think otherwise is a kabuki dance. Lets not forget that the US Government set up the foundation of the internet and has never really relinquished absolute control. We will all be better off to assume that the internet is a public forum, rather than assume privacy rights that are just not enforceable. If it’s not the US Governement, then it will be the Chinese Government, or the Iranian Government, or Amazon or whomever can get you to sign a ULA in six point type. Caveat emptor.

    • Michael B says:

      Exactly my thoughts.  This is exactly what one of the outcomes of the Patriot Act was.  It wasn’t just to track foreigners who might be related to terrorism, but to surveil for activities that were already here, such as the 20 or so 9/11 hijackers that were within the borders of the US.

      I find this new found outrage a bit absurd.  Not that one shouldn’t be, but we’ve had two administrations and a few Senates and House that not only passed the Patriot Act with utmost speed, but with nearly unheard of bipartisanship.  Where was the outrage then?  Only a handful of lawmakers opposed it, and some of them, like WI’s Feingold, were voted out of office by the Tea Party brigade.

      To think that privacy continues outside the confines of your house, traveling on a system built by corporate and government interests is incredibly naive, but lets score some political points while we’re at it.

    • Steven Lord says:

      “Wasn’t this the issue when the Patriot Act was first rammed down our
      throats? It hilarious to see senators saying that they’re shocked that
      all of this surveilance is happening when they signed off on it
      themselves, and according Sen. Feinstein, have discussed it for years in
      multiple committees.”

      I wonder how many senators actually read the Patriot Act before they voted for it? I wonder how many have read it since? I’d guess the answer to both questions is “not many.”

  14. Luther Blissett says:

    I know it’s dating back to the 70′s, I know it’s implementation dates back to the Bush admin, but I can’t resist to quote something I read elsewhere:

                                                                   Yes, we scan.

  15. I would assume that the NSA has open access to all information. They would want to connect the dots to wherever they may lead. Why would they limit themselves to “targets” when the threat can come from anywhere? Orwell describes it perfectly.

  16. Anthony I says:

    So when hard drives are gone and everyone’s data is in the cloud…..

  17. AntonSirius says:

    One part of this story seems very weird to me: the whole “access to Facebook’s servers is up 131%!” statement.

    Maybe it’s just a game of telephone between whoever saw the presentation and the reporters, but how exactly could you get *more* access to a company’s servers? Shouldn’t you either have access or not? It’s not like Facebook would have said ‘OK, NSA, you can have access to servers A through K, but L through Z are right out!’

    What am I missing here?

  18. Boundegar says:

    Well I for one am shocked Microsoft were the first to sign up. I thought they were mavericks.

  19. Madeline Ashby says:

    Yeah, but mandatory background checks prior to gun purchases would be an abuse of power. Right. 

  20. Tueksta says:

    Honestly, I would be disappointed if the NSA wouldn’t tap all those sources. I mean: hey, it’s the NSA – what do you think they’re supposed to do, drive around in vans with unidirectional microphones?

    To cite wikipedia: “NSA’s eavesdropping mission includes [...] the Internet [...].”

  21. Cowicide says:

    By the way, this guy, Bill Binney, from the NSA tried to tell everyone this was happening some time ago:




  22. ffabian says:

    What’s the red line that has to be crossed for a democracy to become a totalitarian regime?

    Lets see:

    - Arbitrary detention: Check- Arbitrary torture: Check- Arbitrary assassination: Check - Secret spying of all communications: Check

    Is there a red line left that the US government didn’t cross? Most of it is happening abroad … to people who get what they deserve – so says their government. But slowly the door swings back, as this leak shows, and it’s going to hit the US public hard in the face.

    • pantsu says:

      I wonder how long the US can sustain the narrative of being the defender of freedom and democracy with all those drones flying around and whistleblowers imprisoned. I mean there still is this great brand design with an appealing flag and eagles and whatnot, but in the end it’s all a bit hollow, isn’t it?

      It’s a shame seeing the US, the erstwhile light of the world, being reduced to an iron lung for the super-rich. Everything is tilted towards the 1% while social mobility, access to political power, education, justice, health services or even a living wage for the huge rest become scarcer by the day. But I guess you just didn’t try hard enough.

      The latest NSA scandal just reinforces my impression that the 1% in the US became almost undistinguishable from the princes of China’s Communist Party. But while the latter still have to fear occasional pushes towards democracy, America’s elite got it made. Their fig leaf is a democracy that completely works in their favor and any attempt towards more equality can be easily denounced as “socialist” and “un-american”, which in turn is echoed by large swathes of the population that might actually benefit the most from those changes. Genius.

    • acerplatanoides says:

      Are you free and fearless to discuss it? Well, there’s a red line uncrossed.

      • -hms- says:

         did you not read the article?

        • Xploder says:

           THINK about what he just said there…you ARE free to discuss this matter AND any other matters that you want to. I haven’t seen any evidence whatsoever of mass detentions of internet posters due to comments made on random sites.

          If this WAS happening, the blogosphere would have already erupted with rage and there would, most likely, be massive hacker attacks on government nets.

          • -hms- says:

             There haven’t been MASS* arrests YET + I haven’t discussed a topic in language that angers the powers that be YET + There would be retaliation != free and fearless

            *does it have to be mass to create fear?

          • acerplatanoides says:

            Oh stop being a FUD merchant!

            Your breathless presentation isn’t the mans fault.

          • Xploder says:

             No, it doesn’t have to be mass. I served ten years in the U.S. Army. I’ve discussed aspects of shit loads of things that happened when I was in Desert Storm that NEVER got to the media. At the time, I was recovering from injuries I got there and I’ll be damned if anything happened. I discuss national security bullshit every single day with a ton of people – NONE of which have been arrested – which would seem to indicate to me that even if surveillance is going on, then there isn’t very much being done about it.

            Thin of this -  the NSA grabs everything posted on every site where people post. Let’s say they have an algorithm that will sort out all the comments regarding the NSA, CIA, and other blank blank A agencies. Take just a second and try and imagine that EVEN IF they did that, there would be such a ginormous amount of info that they’d either have to spend a ridiculous amount of time looking through it all OR they’d just grab everyone who posted – AFTER they figure out just who the hell posted in the first place.

            What with firewalls, ip masks and all the other things that are out there to hide your internet identity, they wouldn’t get very far.

            TLDR version:

            Stop being such a paranoid fool.

          • acerplatanoides says:

            What you said, thanks.

      • ffabian says:

        I’m sure there are consequences even for the “small fish”. There are probably hundreds of Usians wondering why they can’t travel via airplane and how they got on a no-fly list or why their laptops get constantly searched or confiscated when entering the USA. Just ask Jacob Applebaum:

      • Cowicide says:

        Are you free and fearless to discuss it? Well, there’s a red line uncrossed.

        Ask the American whistleblowers who expose crime and corruption that same question.


        Is it that you can’t deal with this reality or are you simply too dense to understand it?

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Except… every country in Europe has been doing at least some of that since Rome expelled the Tarquins. Mau Mau? Rainbow Warrior?

    • Cowicide says:

      It’s going to hit the US public hard in the face.

      Some of the public, but many are going into full denial mode.  I guess that’s easier than coping with reality for some people.

  23. bardfinn says:

    Remember the AP phone dragnet?

    This leak is why it happened.

    Still not the bottom of the rabbit hole, but getting very close.

  24. bardfinn says:

    Also: this program is why these companies are allowed to operate their tax evasions schemes, because the assistance they render to the US government’s intelligence efforts is deemed more valuable than the lost tax revenues. In point of fact, they are being operated as branches of the US military.

    • peregrinus says:

      The day when when all the conspiracy theories are re-denominated as factual conspiracies will be an entertaining day indeed.

      Except we’ll all be chained up.  Can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    • Cowicide says:

      I wish more people understood this.  Behind many “successful” companies, is the CIA…


      Our military-industrial complex is wildly out of control.  Only a weakened populace would allow this to happen.  If the American public doesn’t stand up to it, no one will.

      We are the last stop-gap for this massively corrupt, evil machine and we’re failing miserably.  If it wasn’t for these heroic whistleblowers, I would’ve lost all hope by now.

      They are the ones who should be truly thanked for their service to this nation by exposing massive crimes against our republic.  Instead, they are maligned and often charged with crimes themselves.

      In a sense, this is slowly turning into a civil war of sorts.  It’s the people who still believe in the old-school American way versus a group of greedy corporatists that spread ignorance and misinformation at an alarming rate to many U.S. citizens who are duped into thinking we are their enemy.

      This really is the fight of our lives.

  25. showme says:


  26. Mitch_M says:


  27. Felloslav says:

    The former East German Ministry Of State Security would’ve been proud.

  28. vonbobo says:

    Lets see here… porn, porn, porn, recipe, porn, porn, kitties, porn, porn, porn, porn, Arias, porn, porn, porn, porn, some guy in boston linked to terrorist orgs- click “All Clear” aaaand porn, porn, porn, porn…

  29. David says:

    The Washington Post backtracks on claim tech companies ‘participate knowingly’ in PRISM data collection: http://thenextweb.com/us/2013/06/07/wapost-backtracks-on-claim-tech-companies-participate-knowingly-in-prism-data-collection/

    • Cowicide says:

      The Washington Post backtracks on claim tech companies ‘participate knowingly’ in PRISM data collection:

      Except they didn’t really backtrack and simply posted more information.  Did you not read your own article where it says:

      ” … the arrangement is described as allowing “collection managers [to send] content tasking instructions directly to equipment installed at company-controlled locations,” rather than directly to company servers. … ”

      How does that somehow translate that the companies didn’t knowingly participate?  It doesn’t.  It says the opposite.

      It only clarifies in HOW they were complicit.

      Dude, just give it up.  It’s already being admitted.  Get over your cognitive dissonance and read this:

      White House admits it has ‘access’ to Facebook, Google


      The can of worms is already wide open.  Now they are simply in damage-control mode.  Why help them with that?

  30. That_Anonymous_Coward says:

    And look its a talking head telling us to stop worrying about this and pointing out the bad people in this are the press for daring to talk about it.


    “Basically “hey everybody, shut up and stop confirming what everyone knew
    already: that the US spied on lots and lots of stuff.” Also, this
    appears to be a government official telling everyone to not exercise
    their 1st Amendment rights to complain about the NSA violating their 4th
    Amendment rights. The Constitution is crying in the corner.”

  31. Petzl says:

    Why does the NYT and Republicans and Tea Party go ape-shit over illegal NSA wiretaps?

    We already went over this.  Bush decided for us, and the NYT and Republicans and Tea Party helped us understand, that illegal NSA wiretaps are just wonderful and keep us safe and secure from the mooslims.

  32. Xploder says:

    Serious question here…

    How exactly is it that the NSA is able to do all this surveillance on a budget of $20 million a year? Doesn’t that seem like a stupidly small amount for the amount of data? Is it just the cost of grabbing it? If that’s it then I really wonder what the cost of compiling everything and then analyzing it is.

    • acerplatanoides says:

      The price is cheap. The cost is yet unknown.

      • Dave1183 says:

        I think you misunderstand.

        The PowerPoint presentation cost $20 million, not the program. It was handed off to Booz Allen Hamilton, and went through three years of chopping (no idea where that term came from) before the original concept was trashed.

        A new no-bid contract was issued to SAIC, who in turn subcontracted out to eight different companies. Two of those companies in turn subcontracted out.

        By the time new project requirements were hammered out, the contract had expired. At that point, the PowerPoint project was brought back in-house, at which time the employee assigned to handle it in turn brought it home for his daughter to handle.

        If you think I’m hyping it all…

        • Xploder says:

           Yeah, having spent ten years in the Army where it cost (no shit) more than twenty dollars for a ten cent part, I’m familiar with the process.

          • Dave1183 says:

            Thankfully I”m not involved in acquisition at all. That doesn’t mean people still don’t try to sell to me though.

  33. Angus Swan says:

    Does anyone else think our spies need to go on a Powerpoint course? 

    • Dave1183 says:

      It just goes to show you how creative most of the people in government are.

      Note: I am a government drone. I hate to use profanity in public, but in this case I must. I can’t wait to get the fuck out of government work. (Pending furloughs don’t help my attitude.)

  34. joe k. says:

    Step one: create an acronym — the more ironic and euphemistic the better!

    Step two: create a logo. In fact, I recommend Agent Stevens from Division 3 — he did art when he was in kindergarten, so he’s the man for the job.

    Step three: make t-shirts for the NSA department sunday barbecues.

    Step four: make a power point presentation consisting of braggadocio and hubris to secure funding.


  35. HammerheadFistpunch says:

    Uh, what’s a PalTalk?

  36. Why do you think the NSA is building multi-billion dollar data centers in Utah and Baltimore?  They have to have storage for all the kitten gifs I send.  To quote Kids in the Hall’s “Brain Candy” -”Ne vous allez pas ou Media, Don’t go to the Media”

  37. Rob says:

     Its probably the cost of the user interface and processing the analyst requests. The data is already captured from the internet backbone and ISPs. Maybe stored in places like the Utah Data Center, though I think the Utah Data Center may be used for future growth or analysis

    • Xploder says:

       It still seems like an absurdly small amount per year. Twenty mil? That just covers the cost of an F-16. There budget has to be stupid large seeing as how nobody even knows what it is – last I heard, it was still TS/C information. Been awhile since I thought about it though so maybe it’s become public knowledge…although I seriously doubt it.

      • Rob says:

        Your point is excellent.

        I’m assuming the following… they are not including the costs of capturing the data. I for one believe the companies involved when they say they haven’t given access to the companies.

        I’m also assuming that the apparatus for gathering data is several beam splitters and packet sniffers across our Tier 1 providers on the internet. Apparently PRISM is dependent on the ISP’s cooperation. Most of these companies aren’t ISPs.

        They also talk about how your users traffic may be flowing through the US on another PRISM slide available on CNN.

        A little research turned up that the monthly international internet traffic amount is an estimated into the us 4.2 petabytes of information per month from the US to an international site. 80 petabytes per month is the amount of internet traffic across the US Tier 1backbone.

        You can fit a petabyte into a standard sized server rack with off the shelf tech.


        I’m thinking that the 20 million PRISM program just searches the already stored data, and provides access to the data from these popular service providers… Its the only way I can see how you can get info stored on dropbox presently, and VOIP calls from before.

        Its possible to have an  machine for the whole internet for years…. likely partially driven by the need to store encrypted info and hopefully break that encryption in the near future when the intelligence gained is still applicable.

        I worked at a company… we used distributed 1u servers to in 2000 to scan 4gb/s of bandwidth and process it for intrusion signatures in real time. It didn’t cost us a thing for the software, one talented developer, and me to watch all that traffic.

        If you had the signature for microsoft, google, etc… traffic, and could decode the presentation layer of the data… you’d see what they see, more or less.

    • Luther Blissett says:

      Most of the (text) data might get processed in near-RT. Just using basic stats to determine glitches in the matrix, keeping several minutes on record, and having the option to a quick freeze.  I’m not sure about audio and visuals, though, this might be more delicate.

      • Rob says:

        The reporter for the Washington Post said he had talked to several people who sat down at a web interface and accessed multiple types of data on several people.

        I assume this was how he was able to confirm his source for publishing the story. People who didn’t just see the slides but had used it.

  38. Bill Glover says:

    “Complete list and details on PRISM web page:  Go PRISMFAA”

    Apparently the NSA also now owns compuserve. No wonder they were so interested in Yahoo and AOL.

  39. Andrew Singleton says:

    Well. Time for me to see if I should leave the googleplex or not.

  40. Melted Crayons says:

    All justified b/c “the bad guys might get us, so we have to do it to protect ourselves”.
    This is ultimately about greed  and the willingness to kill in order to profit.

  41. Melted Crayons says:

    By keeping “metadata” and actual content separate, the Admin can claim they are not really infringing on your privacy.

  42. lu says:

    The US has laws that protect US citizens from some forms of surveillance. But if you’re a foreigner, the NSA has every right to access any of your data stored in or passing through computers in the US. So, if you are foreigner and you choose to use Google, Facebook, Skype, Yahoo, etc, be aware that the NSA is most certainly watching you, and no US law will protect you, and in fact there is legislation in place that explicitly grants this right to the NSA. Did you ever wonder what was the “interception system” that was compromised by Chinese hackers, as Google admitted in an official blog post?

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