Mayer And Zuckerberg Hit Back Over NSA Surveillance Criticisms

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Mayer says execs faced prison if they spoke out about surveillance requests, as Zuckerberg says US government “blew it”

The CEOs of Yahoo and Facebook, Marissa Mayer and Mark Zuckerberg, have defended their companies’ involvement in US surveillance, following the explosive leaks of whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Mayer said executives would have faced jail time if they had spoken out about user data requests Yahoo received, whilst Zuckerberg said the government had failed to communicate “the balance of what they were going for with this”.

Marissa_MayerWe’re OK, say Mayer and Zuckerberg

They were speaking at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference after months of revelations from Snowden indicated many of the top Internet firms were feeding information to the National Security Agency, after orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).

The companies have since filed petitions with the court asking to be able to publish figures on how much data they release as the result of those orders. But many are still unconvinced about the privacy protection Internet companies are providing.

“Releasing classified information is treason and you are incarcerated,” Mayer said, defending the company she has reinvigorated over recent months.

“When you lose and you don’t comply, it’s treason… We think it make more sense to work within the system.”

She said she was “proud to be part of an organisation that, from the beginning, in 2007, has been sceptical of and has been scrutinising those requests”.

Yahoo has shown itself to be particularly proactive in taking its appeals against data requests to the courts, unsuccessfully suing the FISC.

“Frankly, I think that the government blew it,” Zuckerberg said. “They blew it on communicating the balance of what they were going for with this.”

The latest Snowden leaks show the US has been sharing raw surveillance data with Israel, without removing data on American citizens.

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