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Tech firms' responses to latest NSA disclosures cloud the truth, experts say

Zach Miners | Aug. 26, 2013
The NSA paid millions to compensate companies' surveillance costs, new documents claim

Roger Kay, an IT analyst and founder at Endpoint Technologies Associates, said he was not surprised by the documents that were revealed Friday. Though the companies don't say whether they provided information to the government, the legalistic language in some of their responses suggests they did, he said.

Also, companies' responses to the growing number of leaks, whether they are flat-out denials, chock full of complicated legalese, or just plain vague, are probably damaging some users' trust in the companies, Kay argued.

But for Internet users with short attention spans, disclosures like the ones revealed Friday may just blow over, he added.

Still, many questions remain about the type of data collection that was paid for in the millions of dollars in compliance costs that companies reportedly incurred.

It's not clear how the NSA gathers data from companies, Kay said. "Is it like a direct stethoscope into the main artery, or a broader snapshot?"

Getting answers to those kinds of questions may also boil down to semantics. "Perhaps different people mean different things by 'direct access,'" said Seth Schoen, senior staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

In another new development, The Guardian and The New York Times announced on Friday that they would work as partners to give the U.S. paper access to other documents leaked by Snowden. Both papers will be working together to publish more stories tied to the documents.


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