NSA Spying Scandal: Waiting For the Next Shoe to Drop
FORTUNE — Thursday night, after the Guardian broke news of Verizon’s involvement in a massive domestic spying operation by the National Security Agency, the Washington Post and the Guardian both revealed the existence of a program called PRISM — a means by which the government gained access to the servers of big technology companies. How big? Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, Google, AOL, and PalTalk (a chat service popular in the Arab world) were all listed, and Dropbox, a popular cloud-storage service, was noted to be coming on board the PRISM program “soon.”
The companies have all, in turn, professed shock, confusion, and denial at the implication that they knowingly aided the NSA in its efforts to collect an astonishing array of our data, from emails, audio, video, photos, documents attached to emails, and even the connection logs that leave a trail of breadcrumbs analysts can piece together to track an individual’s movements. (Tapping into this “metadata” may prove to be the most disturbing aspect.) This is the very definition of Orwellian, and it shatters the “Don’t be evil” ethos that still resonates around the tech world.
So who is to blame here? The government, certainly, but are the companies telling the truth? Are they victims here too? Here’s what they’re saying in response: