Top-secret documents obtained by The Guardian reveal the National Security Agency (NSA) paid millions of dollars to Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft to cover costs associated with the agency’s PRISM surveillance program.
The revelation is the the first evidence of a financial relationship between the government and Silicon Valley, the newspaper claims.
The government is required to cover compliance costs. Critics say Silicon Valley and the federal government’s increasing coziness creates opportunities for collusion and costly cronyism at the expense of taxpayers.
“The line you have to watch for… is the difference between reimbursement for complying with a lawful order and actually a profit-making enterprise that would incentivize the companies to support government surveillance,” American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel Michelle Richardson told The Hill.
The Washington Post revealed last week that the NSA violated privacy rules thousands of times by vacuuming up thousands of Americans’ emails, despite promises from President Barack Obama that innocent Americans were not being surveilled.
According to The Telegraph, NSA employees have also used their surveillance powers to spy on lovers and romantic interests. NSA workers even have a code name for the practice–“Love-int”–to denote eavesdropping on lovers or love interests.
In June, Obama promised Americans that “When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls… and with respect to the Internet and emails, this does not apply to U.S. citizens, and it does not apply to people living in the United States.”