Google & Facebook CEOs To Users: We’re Not Part Of PRISM & Government Needs More Transparency

google-g-logo-2012Both Google and Facebook gave the press statements yesterday denying involvement with the US National Security Agency’s PRISM data gathering program. Today, both are making that statement more strongly and taking it directly to its users.

Google To Users

Writing today on the Google blog, Google CEO Larry Page and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond said:

We have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government—or any other government—direct access to our servers. Indeed, the U.S. government does not have direct access or a “back door” to the information stored in our data centers. We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday.

The post went on to say:

We provide user data to governments only in accordance with the law. Our legal team reviews each and every request, and frequently pushes back when requests are overly broad or don’t follow the correct process. Press reports that suggest that Google is providing open-ended access to our users’ data are false, period.

Until this week’s reports, we had never heard of the broad type of order that Verizon received—an order that appears to have required them to hand over millions of users’ call records. We were very surprised to learn that such broad orders exist. Any suggestion that Google is disclosing information about our users’ Internet activity on such a scale is completely false.

The post concluded with Google saying it believes there should be a more transparent way for governments to request data from companies:

Finally, this episode confirms what we have long believed—there needs to be a more transparent approach. Google has worked hard, within the confines of the current laws, to be open about the data requests we receive. We post this information on our Transparency Report whenever possible.

In a related matter, the EFF has noted that Google’s Transparency Report doesn’t include the number of orders it receives from the NSA.

Facebook To Users

As for Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has posted to say:

I want to respond personally to the outrageous press reports about PRISM:

Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the US or any other government direct access to our servers. We have never received a blanket request or court order from any government agency asking for information or metadata in bulk, like the one Verizon reportedly received. And if we did, we would fight it aggressively. We hadn’t even heard of PRISM before yesterday.

When governments ask Facebook for data, we review each request carefully to make sure they always follow the correct processes and all applicable laws, and then only provide the information if required by law. We will continue fighting aggressively to keep your information safe and secure.

We strongly encourage all governments to be much more transparent about all programs aimed at keeping the public safe. It’s the only way to protect everyone’s civil liberties and create the safe and free society we all want over the long term.

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Google: Privacy | Legal: PRISM | Legal: Privacy

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About The Author: is Founding Editor of Marketing Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search marketing and internet marketing issues, who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • http://mohamedmansour.com/ Mohamed Mansour

    Of course they are part of PRISM since 2009, they have to deny a secret project. Only a few people from those companies know about it. The patriot act that was signed in explicitly allowed this tracking behavior.

  • xoj_21

    What’d funny about this microsoft was member on this they give a lot of shit yo google, hypocrites

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