Marissa Mayer and Mark Zuckerberg respond to critics over NSA compliance

Mayer stressed that Yahoo had no choice in complying with government requests; Zuckerberg says: "The government blew it"

Leading figures in the technology industry have defended their actions and criticized the US government in the wake of the Prism scandal.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said that not complying with demands for users’ data would have been “treason” whilst Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the government “blew it”. Both Mayer and Zuckerberg were speaking at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Fransisco.

When asked “What are you doing to protect us from tyrannical governments?” Mayer said she was “proud to be part of an organisation that from the very beginning - in 2007 - with the NSA and Fisa and Prism has been sceptical of and has been scrutinizing those requests.”

Mayer also described how Yahoo had filed a lawsuit against “the new, the Patriot Act parts of Prism and Fisa” back in 2007.

Fisa, or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, is the body of law that prescribes how “foreign intelligence information” can be collected and distributed by the US. The acronym is also used to refer to a court that decides which methods of surveillance are legal.

“We lost,” said Mayer of the court case, adding “If you don’t comply, it’s treason."

“So now what we do at each request, we review it, we scrutinize it, we push back on a lot, we push back on a lot of requests from local government.”

When pushed on the consequences for technology companies if they were to disclose requests made by the US government for information, Mayer simply replied that “releasing classified information is treason and you’re incarcerated.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also fielded questions about his company’s involvement with data requests from the NSA. Zuckerberg said that Facebook takes their role in protecting privacy “very seriously”:

“I think it’s my job and it’s [Facebook’s] job to protect everyone who uses Facebook and all the information that they share with us. It’s our government’s job to protect all of us, and also to protect our freedoms and the economy and companies. And I think they did a bad job at balancing those things.”

“Frankly I think the government blew it,” said Zuckerberg.

He also criticized the initial response of the US, which he characterized as the admission that “basically we’re not spying on any Americans”.

“And it was like ‘oh, wonderful!’ That’s really helpful to companies who are trying to serve people around the world and that’s really gonna inspire confidence in American internet companies!”

Zuckerberg also drew attention to Facebook’s Transparency Reports released in August. These revealed the numbers of requests for individuals’ data made by different countries. The US made the most requests, between 11,000 and 12,000, with the UK making the third most requests: 1,975 cases concerning 2,337 individuals.

Zuckerberg said: “The reality is that because of the transparency we pushed for, now people can know – and I think they deserve to know – that the number of requests that the government is making is closer to 1,000 […] and definitely not 10 million or 100 million.”

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Support and Development Engineer

    £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The leading provider of Employee Managem...

    Recruitment Genius: Creative Designer

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Kent based design consulta...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Gazetteer Consultant

    £25000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking to work for an ...

    Recruitment Genius: Regional Support Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This role's responsibility also include operat...

    Day In a Page

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'