Mild-Mannered Canadian Fury

Doug Stephen is Politely Peeved

A Short Comment on PRISM Denials

Sat, 08 Jun 2013 Ā«permalinkĀ»

I’m not really going to comment on the whole PRISM thing itself. I don’t have nearly enough information or expertise. Obviously, the claims being leveled are pretty atrocious, and if they’re even fractionally true then it makes me pretty sad about the state of American government. But what I do have some background in is the sensitivity of top-secret leaks.

Because that’s the one thing that nobody seems to be remembering when they report on Facebook and Google and other companies denying involvement with the NSA and their PRISM initiative. The program itself is classified. I worked for a small civilian defense contractor for a year and a half as a software developer, and it was during my time with this organization that the Wikileaks/Bradley Manning stuff really kicked off. And because of this, the government really buckled down on requiring their contractors to complete courses and training about sensitive material. What a lot of people don’t understand is that when classified material is leaked, it does not become declassified.

While the NSA may have declassified portions of PRISM, any information that has not been declasified explicitly is still considered legally protected in spite of anything that anybody has reported. This means that if any organization were to discuss anything about PRISM that is still classified, the government would have the ability to bring down a pretty brutal legal hammer.

This isn’t a treatise on morality or ethics or my stance on the subject. Personally, there’s a reason that I no longer work for defense contractors (which is where the money is in high-tech where I live). But the PRISM situation is more than just a PR nightmare for any company that is involved; it’s a vicious legal one as well. So take that in to consideration when you judge these corporate juggernauts (as shitty as their involvement would be if it’s true) when they protect their very existence by not committing treason.