Yahoo, Facebook CEOs Demand More NSA Transparency

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Merissa Mayer of Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO), and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg are not happy with the way government has handled the National Security Agency (NSA) request and the secrecy issues. Both Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and the Yahoo CEO, speaking at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference on Wednesday, are demanding more transparency from the United States government regarding dealings with NSA.

“I think the government blew it,” said Zuckerberg.

Executives are not even allowed to talk about such orders

Since the cover over NSA and its PRISM program blew up, the government is telling people that it was collecting information on those who are not in the United States.

“That’s really helpful to companies who are trying to serve people around the world,” said Zuckerberg sarcastically. “I think that was really bad.”

The United State government has extracted information from foreign users from companies like Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Facebook and Yahoo, assisted by national security-related orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and other agencies. Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) CEO Mayer said that she could not talk in public about these government orders because this information is confidential.

“If you don’t comply, it’s treason,” said Mayer.

However, Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told CNN that this is not treason. He said that not complying with orders of FISA court will account for the espionage act. It could result in contempt of court and the company would be charged with penalties, but executives will not be affected.

Yahoo fought back in the past

Mayer said that irrespective of the actions to be taken, Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) has raised its voice against this issue. Yahoo was one of the prominent companies to file a lawsuit against the Patriot Act and parts of PRISM and FISA in 2007, but the company lost.

Mayer said she is proud to be a part of organization that from the very beginning has been skeptical and has scrutinized those requests.

Recently, companies like Yahoo, Google, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Facebook have filed lawsuits against the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in a quest to raise some legal action against such gag orders.

Tech companies demanding more transparency

All government requests for account data are mentioned in Transparency reports. The information is subdivided country-wise and the number of individual accounts affected. However, companies argue that they need more information on how much information was national security related, and how many of them were common criminal investigations and other situations in which there was a warrant or subpoena.

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) published its first transparency report for the past six months of 2013 in which a total of 9000 requests are shown from the United States government, but Information taken by NSA is not clear.

“We’ve been pushing just to get more transparency on this and I actually think we’ve made a big difference,” said Zuckerberg.

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