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.


  1. My god, the paranoia here is incredible. You folks think that we do not need the government to do whatever it takes to protect us? You think Obama started this stuff? Who cares if the whole world knows who to call on a phone? Really? What crimes are doing. Get your foil hats out and you will be fine.

  2. Another sickening discussion based on opinion only bringing out the worst in MDN people. I’ll walk away and quietly try to refrain from vomiting. So many insults, such prejudice!…

  3. I’d much rather that security agencies were overseen by transparent public courts and responsible to the citizens that they are supposedly “protecting”. Fact is, the protection is minimal and, like most of the military-industrial complex, a ludicrously poor value.

    Snowden is a hero. NSA spooks are mostly greedy contractors attempting to scare people and thus attempt to justify their existence. For decades they have enjoyed operating under completely inadequate oversight.

    … and no, neither party is any different than the other. Both are thoroughly corrupt and beholden no longer to their voter constituents, but rather to their corporate funders (which includes Booz Allen Hamilton, a “consultancy” firm whose primary client is the federal government and whose political contributions total $1.2 billion since 1990 (primarily to incumbent politicians, where influence can be leveraged via senior officials in key committees).


    Apple’s Commitment to Customer Privacy

    Two weeks ago, when technology companies were accused of indiscriminately sharing customer data with government agencies, Apple issued a clear response: We first heard of the government’s “Prism” program when news organizations asked us about it on June 6. 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….

    The actual PROBLEM is that the FISA court has been unconstitutionally handing out BLANKET surveillance warrants. Any company honoring BLANKET surveillance of any US citizen inside the USA is BREAKING THE US CONSTITUTION. IOW: It’s more than just an ethical obligation to throw such BLANKET warrants back into the faces of the NSA, FBI, Justice Department et al. They are flat out ILLEGAL under any circumstance.

    Once again, here is the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    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.

    Kick butt Apple! 😀

      1. I’m trying to make sense of what you’re saying. Certainly the FEDS should be following the law. But why NOT tell a criminal “No, I will not cooperate with your crime!”

        I don’t think you’re trying to say that Apple should ‘just roll over’, right?

        1. no, I am saying precisely what I typed: not Apple nor any company should assume to have the discretion to allow any request for spying on American citizens without probable cause and a warrant by a federal judge. Period. End of story. It’s not up to Apple or one of the Nazi alphabet soup to decide.

          1. to elaborate: “In fact, from time to time when we see inconsistencies or inaccuracies in a request, we will refuse to fulfill it.” refuse ALL requests unless they fulfill the requirements of the Fourth Amendment.

            1. further, as you accurately noted, FISA courts are also in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment as their blanket warrants do not fulfill the amendment’s “and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” clause.

          2. So you would like Apple et al. to simply with respond with:

            ‘We know nothing, NOTHING!’
            ‘We were just following order!’

            If so, I call SHENANIGANS! and entirely disagree. Apple is a conscientious company, thank goodness. Saying ‘NO’ to blanket surveillance is exactly what they, and every other company, should be doing. That is customer respect, the very core of professional business. As I am ever ranting, any company that refuses to respect their customers should not be doing business. They’re self-destructive and belong in the ranks of unprofessional biznizziz.

  5. “What changed at Apple between September 2007 when Microsoft began providing data to PRISM and October 2012 when Apple joined up?”

    MDN is exactly right in wondering if Steve Jobs’ death was the deciding factor for Apple finally cooperating, because it was.

    As I outlined in posts before, Cook caved to government pressure in the US first, and most recently to the PRC. He has no problem with that, just as he has no problem caving to Wall St in taking out loans to pay dividends to the gamblers in 3-piece suits. To him it’s nothing more than making deals with entities that he (mistakenly) believes will help get Apple ahead in the future, or not cause problems in the present. That’s a fine way to be when your nothing more than the COO, but a CEO …? Of Apple …? It’s just not enough.

    What it boils down to is that Cook is a functionary, NOT a visionary. He’s doing his best to emulate Jobs on the outside – his constant peppering of his speeches with buzzwords like “magical” and “amaaaazing” is the most obvious example of that. But inside he has limited capacity to see the bigger picture, or stand up for what’s right against those who must be stared down & told “no”. That’s not who he is, apparently, and God only knows if he’ll ever learn how to be different – to Think Different – but his track record so far says otherwise.

    Jobs was truly one of a kind. A pain in the ass to be sure, but a guy who saw things holistically in ways that few can. The country is poorer with out him in ways that go far beyond good looking consumer electronic devices.

  6. Apple’s very carefully worded statement makes me a bit suspicious, for example:
    > 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.
    Ok, but what about Booz Allen Hamilton? the private company that works for the gov agency? Or some other “3rd parties” mentioned in all apple’s privacy documents.
    The reason private companies are used for this task is that the public then has no right to request information or disclosure of their activities, if it was the gov doing the data collection the public (theoretically) could insist on being informed.

    Then there is this:
    > 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.
    I just don’t believe that. Apple has the root certificate and generates the key pairs used for “end-to-end encryption” – I don’t recall generating my own keys and having control over the private key. It’s nice that “end-to-end encryption” is taking place so the data can’t be sniffed in transit but I doubt its “peer to peer”, there most definitely is an apple server in the middle, decrypting.

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