Whistleblower Edward Snowden is at it again. In a new string of documents provided to The Guardian by the ex-CIA technical analyst, it is alleged that NSA paid millions of dollars of taxpayer money to internet companies such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook. Previous leaks from Edward Snowden allege that these major companies, and a few more, are involved in the National Security Agency’s PRISM program. Soon after the initial leaks, major U.S. internet companies including the ones mentioned above denied ever having any knowledge of the PRISM program.
The money was reportedly paid to these companies to reimburse them for the cost of compliance with legal orders for user data and content. The Guardian believes that this leak “raises new questions” about the relationship of major internet companies with the NSA. Microsoft said in a statement that it only complies with court orders because it is legally ordered to, and not because it is reimbursed for the work. Yahoo said in a statement it only requests reimbursement that is consistent with the law, citing a Federal law that requires the government to reimburse providers the cost they incur to respond to compulsory legal process imposed by the government. On the other hand, Facebook claims that it has never received any compensation for responding to a government request for data and content. Google is yet to clarify if these allegations are correct.
Conspiracy theorists are likely to spin this information out of context, they’ll probably lead many to believe as if the NSA is paying these companies to be a part of its spying program. A similar allegation has been leveled already, one report claimed that NSA had direct access to the servers of most major internet companies, and that it was able to access user data without even alerting said companies. While the NSA has owned up to its programs, there is no confirmation about any financial relationship existing between the agency and these companies, except from the one they themselves are telling the world about.