Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Apple and other US firms are reported to have involved in spying
A senior intelligence official of US has reportedly admitted that the National Security Agency and the FBI have tapped directly into the servers of nine major US tech firms to collect the users data.
The Guardian and the Washington Post have reported that the data was accessed through a programme called PRISM, which enables authorities to access emails, information of live chats.
Major firms which were tapped under PRISM include Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Apple, PalTalk, AOL, Skype and YouTube.
The Guardian reported that it has verified the authenticity of the document classified as top secret with no distribution to foreign allies – which was apparently used to train intelligence operatives on the capabilities of the programme.
According to the Guardian, the document claims collection directly from the servers of major US service providers.
Reacting to the news, Google said: "Google cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully.
"From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data," the company said.
An Apple spokesman said the company had never heard of PRISM.
Facebook said it did not provide any access to government organisations with direct access to its servers.
Microsoft said in a statement, "We provide customer data only when we receive a legally binding order or subpoena to do so, and never on a voluntary basis."
"In addition we only ever comply with orders for requests about specific accounts or identifiers. If the government has a broader voluntary national security program to gather customer data we don’t participate in it."