Say it ain't so Sergey: Why Big Tech Lied to You About the NSA Scandal
With the revelation that big technology companies were working hand in hand with the NSA, the mythical scene from the 1919 Black Sox Scandal replayed time and time again. Like the little boy asking his hero, Shoeless Joe Jackson, if he'd really fixed the World Series, we pleaded of Big Tech,
"Say it ain't so, Mark!"
"It ain't so," Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook told us.
Zuckerberg claimed had no knowledge of the NSA system that spied on Americans. Microsoft denied it. Yahoo denied it. Even Google denied it. They all denied it.
But the truth came out; they were all working closely with the NSA. This formerly top secret slide calls out the participating companies by name, even assigning them provider codes.
So why did they all lie? After seeing the spectacle of large companies, stared in the face with undeniable truth, insist that the sky wasn't blue, I suspected they were being coerced. I checked into the original documents leaked by Snowden.
Sure enough, straight out of the court order requiring Verizon hand over customer information to the Feds, it is clearly stated that Verizon may not "disclose to any person that the FBI or NSA has sought or obtained tangible things under this Order."
No doubt, when asked the question, the legal team at Apple, Microsoft and Yahoo all came to the conclusion that they would face retribution from the FBI and NSA if they acknowledged their involvement in the top secret spying program. The had to lie.
Requiring companies (and ultimately private citizens) to lie to their customers on behalf of the lawbreaking Federal Government is a particularly egregious abuse of power. I am no scholar of law, so I cannot speak for this practice's strict legality, but it is unquestionably immoral to bully someone into lying about one's own lawbreaking habits. To blackmail and extort private citizens into participating in illegal government enterprises is possibly the blackest mark so far in the entire NSA scandal.