Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his Yahoo counterpart Marissa Mayer have both commented on the NSA Prism revelations, insisting that both web firms did as much as they could to resist governmental demands to reveal personal data of users.
Both were speaking during separate talks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference taking place in San Francisco.
“Frankly I think the government blew it,” Zuckerberg said on the NSA revelations
“The government response was, ‘Oh, don’t worry, we are not spying on any Americans’. Oh wonderful, that’s really helpful to companies that are trying to serve people around the world and that’s really going to inspire confidence in American internet companies,” he continued, adding that he thought the policy and attitude of the US government was “really bad”.
Zuckerberg told the audience that citizens deserve to know more about government surveillance programmes and that Facebook has been “pushing just to get more transparency on this and I actually think we’ve made a big difference”.
The Facebook CEO added he was not impressed that his firm had to threaten legal action in order for the government to be more communicative.
“We are not at the end of this,” he said. “I wish that the government would be more proactive about communicating. We are not psyched that we had to sue in order to get this and we take it very seriously.”
Both Facebook and Yahoo have filed suits to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa) court in order for them to be able to disclose more information about government requests.
Mayer also spoke about NSA, Prism and Yahoo’s reasons for not disclosing more information about the programme to the public, suggesting if she or her company had, then they would be sent to jail.
“Releasing classified information is treason and you are incarcerated,” she said.
Mayer pointed out how Yahoo had fought against Prism requests when the policy was first introduced, telling the conference 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 previously lost a Fisa court case when the firm previously asked to publish details about what information the government was asking and Mayer said: “When you lose and you don’t comply, it’s treason.
“We think it makes more sense to work within the system.”
Earlier this week, Facebook and Yahoo asked Fisa for permission to publish details of national security requests they receive from the US government for user data.