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Posts Tagged ‘spies like us’

NSA Tries, Fails to Improve Its Reputation With Damage Control ‘Interview’

You may have heard that the National Security Agency is currently one of the least popular organizations in both the United States and Germany, because for some reason Angela Merkel doesn’t like people tapping her phones.

Somebody within the group thought it might be a good idea to offer the public some clarity on the “data collection” issue by sitting director general Keith Alexander in front of a camera and letting him say whatever came to mind under the pretext of answering questions written by a Pentagon employee. It gets a little weird.

The video is more than thirty minutes long, so allow us (with the help of MSNBC’s Adam Serwer) to give you some takeaways:

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Facebook, Other Tech Brands Respond to Latest NSA Surveillance Revelations

The newest bombshell headlines from The Guardian‘s slow-drip reporting on our own National Security Agency‘s data collection/surveillance practices have created some unwanted headaches for the biggest names in tech. Last week’s article revealed that the American government didn’t just gather data from Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft—it also paid them millions of dollars to cover related compliance expenses.

In short, the super-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (or FISA court) ruled in 2011 that some of the NSA’s practices were unconstitutional since the organization could not effectively distinguish foreign communications from standard domestic messages like the ones you send your co-workers and friends every day. The Obama administration declassified this information last week.

After the ruling, the agency had to adjust its way of doing things in order to remedy the problem, and those changes cost participating tech companies millions that the NSA then paid back—hence the “financial relationship” first disclosed in the Guardian piece. It’s all quite labyrinthine and infuriating, but we’re most interested in the big names’ responses.

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