By Justin Sink
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on Friday denied that his company gave the government direct access to its servers.
"We have never received a blanket request or court order from any government agency asking for information or metadata in bulk, like the one Verizon reportedly received. And if we did, we would fight it aggressively. We hadn't even heard of PRISM before yesterday."
The Washington Post reported Thursday that the government had been tapping the servers of nine technology companies to collect emails, videos, photographs, and other data in a classified program known as PRISM.
The billionaire CEO went on to "strongly encourage" the government to be "much more transparent" about national security programs.
"It's the only way to protect everyone's civil liberties and create the safe and free society we all want over the long term," he said.
Each of the technology companies, including Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Yahoo, named in the Post's report have denied that they provided the government access to its servers. Apple, AOL, Google, and Paltalk all said they had never before heard of the program.
Google CEO Larry Page expressed similar befuddlement at the reports in a blog post entitled "What the …?"
"We have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government — or any other government — direct access to our servers," Page wrote. "Indeed, the U.S. government does not have direct access or a “back door” to the information stored in our data centers. We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday."
In California earlier Friday, President Obama stressed that the Internet monitoring program only targeted international users.
"This does not apply to U.S. citizens and it does not apply to people living in the United States," Obama said.
He also said that Congress had authorized and was "fully apprised" of the program.