Snowden: Apple, Facebook, Google can resist U.S. NSA

“Whistleblower Edward Snowden on Monday said companies like Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. had an ‘ethical obligation’” not to cooperate with the National Security Agency data-gathering program, arguing that the tech giants had enough clout to resist the agency,” Benjamin Pimentel reports for MarketWatch.

“Snowden, a former government contractor who leaked classified NSA documents related to a secret data-gathering program, took part in a live chat through the Guardian newspaper, which broke the story about the spying scandal,” Pimentel reports. “‘As a result of these disclosures and the clout of these companies, we’re finally beginning to see more transparency and better details about these programs for the first time since their inception,’ he said. He noted that the big tech companies were ‘legally compelled to comply and maintain their silence in regard to specifics of the program.'”

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Pimentel reports, “But he also suggested the companies had enough clout to resist. ‘If for example Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple refused to provide this cooperation with the Intelligence Community, what do you think the government would do? Shut them down?’ he asked.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: By SteveJack

According to The Guardian, companies began providing data to the NSA’s PRISM program as early as 2007. See this accompanying godawful image:

NSA PRISM Program data provider dates
(Image source: The Guardian)

Unsurprisingly, ’twas The Borg that jumped on board first on September 11, 2007. Apple, it seems, held out all the way until October 2012.

Hmm, wonder why? What changed at Apple between September 2007 when Microsoft began providing data to PRISM and October 2012 when Apple joined up?

Superficially, at least, the major difference at Apple was that Steve Jobs was no longer running the company.

Did Steve Jobs tell the NSA spooks to go pound sand while Tim Cook folded like a cheap suit right around the one year anniversary of Steve’s untimely death?

SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, former web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.

67 Comments

  1. “Did Steve Jobs tell the NSA spooks to go pound sand while Tim Cook folded like a cheap suit right around the one year anniversary of Steve’s untimely death?”

    you bet your Bill Of Rights he did.

    1. I’m angry at Cook for complying with the illegal unconstitutional nazi spy program, but the US citizens also need to wake up from their slumber and storm the gates and end this rediculous government abuse.

          1. if I were an American journalist these days, I would copy & paste my articles into Messages and submit them to my editor using Messages’ built in encryption. A defense against the rat bastards at the NSA, CIA, IRS, DOJ and FBI, all agencies under the control of the Executive Branch and subordinate to Obama Messiah, who serve at his pleasure.

  2. Nope. Has nothing to do with Steve Jobs. Being overbearing and cantankerous with employees and vendors is one thing. Telling the NSA to fuck off is another. Anyone who doesn’t understand that is indeed naïve. And it’s possible that these companies truly didn’t always know how much information was being taken from them. Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook etc. all have huge pipelines coming in and out of their systems. The NSA simply copied the incoming and outgoing information upstream from these companies making identical copies. Then storing same. This was done unbeknownst to these companies. Routers not servers. Google for instance would have never known that this was occurring at an AT&T main office. But since Google and others would have seen where information they held was used in criminal cases, the NSA had to ask for information so as to not make it obvious that they were getting all data upstream. So perhaps Google, Apple, Microsoft and others aren’t as complicit as everyone thinks.

    1. Unfortunately for your labored little self-delusional fairy tale, the timeline clearly suggests that the presence of Steve Jobs was what kept Apple from handing over customers private data to government spy agencies.

  3. “Did Steve Jobs tell the NSA spooks to go pound sand while Tim Cook folded like a cheap suit right around the one year anniversary of Steve’s untimely death?”

    Leave it to SteveJack to drive a stake straight into the heart of the matter.

  4. As I wrote earlier — it should be repeated as media do not talk about it — today’s detailed denials from all of big participants of PRISM programs do not really deny anything. They talk about government “requests”, not about court orders. Under court gag orders companies can not admit even that order itself exists, let alone whether the scope of it is narrow or super-broad — telling even that would be violation of gag order.

    1. They talk about government “requests”, not about court orders.

      APPLE specifically talks about “court orders“. (Beats me why MDN missed this crucial document):

      http://www.apple.com/apples-commitment-to-customer-privacy/

      We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer content must get a court order.

      See that? ‘Court order’. It’s well worth reading Apple’s entire document on the subject.

      1. Fair mention, but they also talk about how they are denying certain “requests”. This means that actually by far not every request goes as court order, or otherwise Apple would not be able to deny it.

        Anyway, it does not change main point that if gag order on specific case is not lifted by judge, companies can not admit that court ruling exists, or, the more so discuss how broad or narrow it is.

        So Google, FB, MS, Apple can not really deny anything — because this is how the system is built. Secret hearings, secret rulings, total gag order.

        1. Yes, I understand that situation. At least now they can give out general numbers.

          Apple is pointing out, however, that they internally review all ‘requests’ (be they actually DEMANDS) for information with their lawyers and turn away ‘requests’ that are not clearly legal. How that legality is determined, remains unknown. But I have pointed out that all US lawyers have the US Constitution as the source document for legal fundamentals. AND blanket surveillance of US citizens inside the USA is blatantly UNconstitutional. Therefore, I cannot but assume Apple is throwing back unconstitutional ‘requests’.

  5. MDN, don’t you even bother looking at your own postings?
    Or are you just contrary or the sake of it?
    Your posting at 14.44 ET quite clearly states what info Apple will provide, and now you’re getting all whiney about Tim ‘folding like a cheap suit’, puh-leeeeese, enough of the sanctimonious crap, Apple, like any other entity, is legally obliged to comply with requests for info when it’s demanded, but it’s perfectly clear, at least to me, that Apple’s compliance is the absolute minimum it can get away with, without compromising itself and being drawn into ever more legal confrontations with the courts in Washington.

    1. Then why didn’t Apple begin providing the data until 6+ years after Microsoft, five of which Steve Jobs was alive and in charge of the company?

    1. I really don’t like Obama’s continuation of the bipartisan police state. But, did you have to expose your racism (and a bit of homophobia)?
      Obama supporting a fascist surveillance state should be opposed and criticized for THAT, not for his skin color. Perhaps you should take note that a big chunk of the fascist-supporters are white folks and get over your knee-jerk tendency to see everything through skin color. Most of the oppressing in the USA has been by people with light-colored skin.
      Geez.

  6. Quote from the earlier post that MDN put up:
    “Regardless of the circumstances, our Legal team conducts an evaluation of each request and, only if appropriate, we retrieve and deliver the narrowest possible set of information to the authorities. In fact, from time to time when we see inconsistencies or inaccuracies in a request, we will refuse to fulfill it.
    Apple has always placed a priority on protecting our customers’ personal data, and we don’t collect or maintain a mountain of personal details about our customers in the first place. There are certain categories of information which we do not provide to law enforcement or any other group because we choose not to retain it.
    For example, conversations which take place over iMessage and FaceTime are protected by end-to-end encryption so no one but the sender and receiver can see or read them. Apple cannot decrypt that data. Similarly, we do not store data related to customers’ location, Map searches or Siri requests in any identifiable form.
    We will continue to work hard to strike the right balance between fulfilling our legal responsibilities and protecting our customers’ privacy as they expect and deserve.”
    MDN seem to be ignoring this, they didn’t make any comment after it, unlike the snarky one after this posting.

    Read more at http://macdailynews.com/2013/06/17/apple-since-december-2012-we-have-received-u-s-govt-requests-for-customer-data-for-up-to-10000-accounts/#k6TTbvLid2SpgiFR.99

  7. The Department of Defense dragged their feet for years to get the iPhone and iPad approved for government use. Meanwhile they approved Android years ago and the platform was weaving its way through the government pipeline while Apple waited and waited. Low and behold it just so happens that a few months after Tim Cook reportedly relented to the NSA’s demands, the iPhone and iPad are now cleared for liftoff. That doesn’t seem fishy to anyone else?

  8. In the absence of facts, speculate, right? I really don’t get the anti-Tim tone here. Tim was Steve’s hand-picked guy. Tim did great with the congressional hearings earlier this month… Stop assuming the worst. Tim isn’t Steve, for sure. But he’s obviously hugely thoughtful and directionally correct enough for Steve to have handed his first child over to… Relax.

    1. Perfectly stated Magnus.

      Seriously, no one but NO ONE here, has the slightest idea what drove that timeline. Look, I’m a huge Jobs fan… but this line of speculation, and assumption is really stretching it.

      What a bunch of armchair analysts this group is. It’s all fair game when we’re spinning our own fantasy I guess. But boy are we quick to jump on others when exercise the same poor judgement when writing about something they don’t know sh!t about!

  9. The problem is not Apple. Only Jobs could have resisted the NSA, because he created Apple. All else have an unshakeable duty to shareholders with regard to winning billion dollar deals with government agencies. The problem is that we need to fire every judge that was hired in the last couple administrations and fire all of Congress, and hire only Bill of Rights champions. Plus maybe remove money from elections, end US involvement in all wars, give teeth to regulatory agencies and simplify and strip legalese from laws and contracts to make them accessible to anyone. If you please, Mr. Santa Claus.

  10. Apple has always been more concerned about its customers’ privacy than Google, Microsoft, etc. I don’t think this timeline has anything to do with when Steve Jobs was in charge of Apple or Tim Cook — I think it has more to do with when Apple was finally backed into a corner by the NSA and ultimately Apple’s attorneys told the company, “Look, they have orders which comply with existing Federal law, plus they’re the *%^%$%#%$^ NSA. We’ve resisted as much as we can without potentially incurring significant consequences. Time to give the NSA what they ask for before they raid HQ and take everything.”

    This idea that private companies can fight against the NSA is silly, especially when the NSA has authorizations under Federal law. We can debate whether the law is Constitutional or not, but right now the law is the law and companies have to abide by it, or they suffer serious consequences.

    1. Every private company can fight and eventually destroy the NSA by making a public refusal to acquiesce to illegal, unconstitutional demands along with documentation of said demands through email, video and audio. It’s this new thing they have out called courage.

      1. And which American company, specifically relating to this topic or otherwise, has shown and exercised this “new found courage” or destroyed the NSA?

          1. Get a diaper old fart, or get out of your chair, to take a shit once in a while instead of dumping your automatic vile all over the feedback pages like a rabid parrot.

            Question answered : None.

            Polly wants a cracker.

  11. You can bet that if Apple Corporation had NOT kow-towed (and who knows, perhaps all the 3-pronged attacks by each government arm is still payback), we would see a lot more cancers in Apple management today.

    Conspiracy Theory 101: The government killed off Steve Jobs via cancer, because he wasn’t a team player.

  12. Unfortunately, when you look at what the CIA and other US government agencies have done in the past, this line of thinking isn’t totally off-base.

    Of course I think you’re wrong about this one. Heart attacks, car bombs, rendition, disappearing, and ricin darts shut people up much quicker.

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