The Guardian reports: The US has admitted using a secret system to mine the systems of the biggest technology companies to spy on millions of people’s online activity, overshadowing attempts by Barack Obama to force China to abandon its cyber-espionage program.
As concern mounted over the sweeping nature of US surveillance, the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, confirmed revelations by the Guardian that the National Security Agency uses companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple to obtain information that includes the content of emails and online files.
Coupled with the acknowledgement that authorities had undertaken a seven-year program to monitor the telephone calls of potentially millions of people in the US, it has become clear that the Obama administration has embraced and expanded the surveillance regime began under President Bush.
Clapper insisted that the internet surveillance program, known as Prism and disclosed by the Guardian and the Washington Post on Thursday, only covered communications with foreigners and did not target US citizens. “Information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats,” Clapper said.
He acknowledged that Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was being used to “facilitate the acquisition of foreign intelligence information”. [Continue reading…]