So PRISM totally exists. James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, basically confirmed the Washington Post and Guardian report about how the NSA can pry data from Apple, Facebook, Google and whoever else.
Here's what Clapper wrote about PRISM:
The Guardian and The Washington Post articles refer to collection of communications pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. They contain numerous inaccuracies.
Section 702 is a provision of FISA that is designed to facilitate the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning non-U.S. persons located outside the United States. It cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S. person, or anyone located within the United States.
Activities authorized by Section 702 are subject to oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the Executive Branch, and Congress. They involve extensive procedures, specifically approved by the court, to ensure that only non-U.S. persons outside the U.S. are targeted, and that minimize the acquisition, retention and dissemination of incidentally acquired information about U.S. persons.
Section 702 was recently reauthorized by Congress after extensive hearings and debate.
Information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable foreign intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats.
The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.
Okay. Translation: hey, we're doing this because it's all totally legal! And that there are a lot of procedures to get stuff like this done so don't worry! And it's all a secret! And that revealing that we've had access to data from bigwig Internet companies is an awful thing to do! Basically, trust us to keep you safe even if it means we're completely untrustworthy. Ha. [DNI.gov via SFGate, Image Credit: Guardian]