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Friday, June 7, 2013

Daily Report: U.S. Is Said to Have Secretly Tapped Internet Companies

The federal government appears to have been secretly recording the nation’s largest Internet companies going back nearly six years â€" including Google, Facebook and, most recently, Apple â€" according to documents that emerged on Thursday even as officials confirmed they had been compiling a vast library of Americans’ phone call records in the fight against terrorism, Charlie Savage and Edward Wyatt report in The New York Times.

While the data provided varies according to the online provider, it could include e-mail, chat services, videos, photos, stored data, file transfers, video conferencing, and logins â€" according to a presentation describing the highly classified National Security Agency program called Prism.

The documents also said that “special requests” for information were available. The New York Times has not confirmed the authenticity of the documents, and several of the Internet companies issued statements strongly denying knowledge of or participation in the program. The White House made no immediate comment.

But the disclosure of the documents by American and British newspapers came just hours after government officials acknowledged a separate seven-year effort to sweep up records of telephone calls inside the United States. Together, the unfolding disclosures opened an extraordinary window into the growth of government surveillance that began under the Bush administration after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and has clearly been embraced and even expanded under the Obama administration.

The extraordinary revelations, in rapid succession, also suggested that someone with access to high-level intelligence secrets had decided to unveil them in the midst of furor over leak investigations. Both were reported by Britain’s Guardian newspaper, while The Washington Post, relying on the same presentation, simultaneously reported the Internet company recording. The Post said a disenchanted intelligence official provided it with the documents to expose government overreach.