Google, Facebook deny compromising personal data

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New Delhi, Jun 8, 2013 (PTI):

Amidst an uproar in the US over the issue of government secretly tracking information on foreigners from Internet firms, Google and Facebook have categorically denied their participation in such a project.

Both the US-based technology giants said that their organisations were not aware about the existence of such a programme — code-named PRISM — until it hit national and international headlines.

In a post on his profile on Facebook yesterday, its founder Mark Zuckerberg said: “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.”
Similarly, Google Co-founder and CEO Larry Page and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond in a post on the search giant’s official blog said: “First, we have not joined any program that would give the US government or any other government direct access to our servers.

“Indeed, the US 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 top Google honchos added that the issue was about press reports alleging that Internet companies have joined a secret US government program called PRISM to give the National Security Agency direct access to Google’s servers.

On government requests for data, Zuckerberg said: “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 is required by law.

Likewise, Page and Drummond in their blog post said Google provides data to governments only as per the law.

“Second, 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,” the post said.

It further added: “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.”

“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,” they said.

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