Mark Zuckerberg isn’t the first name that comes to mind as a champion of privacy. But the seemingly endless revelations of NSA surveillance programs has inspired Facebook’s founder to call up no less than President Obama himself to defend his users from government intrusion.
On Thursday Zuckerberg posted a statement on Facebook calling on the U.S. government to take more measures to respect users’ privacy and security. “The US government should be the champion for the internet, not a threat,” reads his statement. “I’ve called President Obama to express my frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future. Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform.”
Though Zuckerberg never explicitly names the NSA in his statement, his comments follow news of NSA programs that have potentially allowed spying on Facebook users for years–particularly the majority of those users outside the United States. The initial stories on the NSA’s PRISM program last July cited NSA slides that made Facebook appear to have given direct backdoor access to its servers, a notion Zuckerberg and others have vehemently denied. In October, more revelations pointed to NSA efforts to decrypt or surveil data as it traveled between the data centers of companies like Yahoo! and Google. Yet another program siphoned users’ entire contact lists from services like Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail and Facebook–NSA documents cited a single day when 82,857 contact lists were taken from Facebook users.
The NSA has been reluctant to clearly respond to the details of many of those revelations, leaving Facebook and other Silicon Valley firms to fend for themselves against users upset over the violation of their privacy. “They need to be much more transparent about what they’re doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst,” Zuckerberg’s statement reads.
Facebook has said that in response the NSA’s practices it’s expedited plans to better encrypt communications between its data centers and to implement perfect forward secrecy, an cryptographic technique that greatly limits the data an eavesdropper can access even if he or she manages to break a service’s encryption.
“We work together to create this secure environment and make our shared space even better for the world,” Zuckerberg’s statement reads. “This is why I’ve been so confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the US government. When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government.”
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