Alexis Kleinman’s reporting of the exchange:

“So [tech companies] know that their data is being obtained?” James Dempsey, a member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, asked in a follow-up question. “They would have received legal process in order to assist the government.” De said.

If you watch the video it is far less damning than the above text makes it out to be. I always held suspicions that the companies were skirting guilt with clever language. “We’ve never heard of PRISM.” Isn’t the same as: “We’ve never heard of any such program.”

I think we have a bit of that same thing going on here with the response. It sounds to me as though what is being asked (in a very poor manner) is: “Did tech companies know about PRISM, regardless or whether or not they knew the name ‘PRISM’?”

We all want to know that. But the answer sounds more like: “Tech companies knew about all lawful legal data collection pursuant to section 702.”

That’s an answer to a different, but similar, question.

The question needed to be better asked (but they rarely are). I would have asked: “Yes or no. Did tech companies knowingly participate in the metadata collection program that is called PRISM?”

Posted by Ben Brooks