BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – The Guardian reported on a leaked document and then more information emerged about widespread surveillance of internet activities and phone records. The Washington Post also published details about the program- PRISM- which was reportedly meant to be kept Top- Secret and has reignited debate about the Patriot Act and violations of Americans’ civil liberties.
“You can complain about Big Brother and how this is a potential program run amok, but when you actually look at the details then I think we’ve struck the right balance,” said President Barack Obama.
Congressman Mike Rogers from Michigan says the program is an important anti-terrorism tool.
“Within the last few years this program was used to stop a program, excuse me, to stop a terrorist attack in the United States we know that. It’s , it’s, it’s important, it fills in a little seam that we have and it’s used to make sure that there is not an international nexus to any terrorism event that they may believe is ongoing in the United States. So in that regard it is a very valuable thing,” said Rep. Mike Rogers, (R-MI).
Rogers is Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Congressman Luis Gutierrez sits on that committee and says he has serious questions about the program and its use.
“We will be receiving secret briefings and we will be asking, I know I’m going to be asking to get more information. I want to make sure that what they’re doing is harvesting information that is necessary to keep us safe and not simply going into everybody’s private telephone conversations and Facebook and communications. I mean one of the, you know the terrorists win when you debilitate freedom of expression and privacy.” Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL).
A privacy watchdog group has put together a list of companies that are taking steps to protect user privacy and then graded them against their competition. The list from the Electronic Frontier Foundation includes some of the same companies that made headlines this week. You’ll find the EFF grading system and list here.