How America’s Top Tech Companies Created the Surveillance State

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on July 27, 2013

National Journal – They’ve been helping the government spy on people for a very long time. The cozy relationships go back decades. By – July 25, 2013

“The saga of the private sector’s involvement in the NSA’s scheme for permanent mass surveillance is long, complex, and sometimes contentious. Often, in ways that appeared to apply indirect pressure on industry, the NSA has demanded, and received, approval authority—veto power, basically—over telecom mergers and the lifting of export controls on software. The tech industry, in more than a decade of working-group meetings, has hashed out an understanding with the intelligence community over greater NSA access to their systems, including the nation’s major servers (although it is not yet clear to what degree the agency had direct access). “I never saw [the NSA] come and say, ‘We’ll do this if you do that,’ ” says Rebecca Gould, the former vice president for public policy at Dell. “But the National Security Agency always reached out to companies, bringing them in. There are working groups going on as we speak…Most of this co-opting of the private sector has happened with the full-throated support of both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, again behind closed doors. Today, Hayden says, the agency itself is all but indistinguishable from the private sector it has exploited. Its best technology is designed by the private sector—“There isn’t a phone or computer at Fort Meade that the government owns,” he says—and its surveillance systems are virtually interwoven with their products. The huge controversy over Snowden’s employment by one of these private contractors, Booz Allen Hamilton, was just the barest tip of the iceberg, according to intelligence and industry officials. One by one, [former NSA Director Michael] Hayden says, the NSA contracted with companies to “make them part of our team,” as he puts it.”

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