According to Rajesh De, a senior lawyer at National Security Agency (NSA), big tech companies like Google and Yahoo were aware of mass data collection by the NSA and provided NSA with complete assistance during the process.
This runs contrary to what the big tech companies have been saying about being unaware of initiatives like Prism, which was a program designed to collect communication data on the Internet or the collection of “upstream” data.
In fact, when questioned about whether collection under the FISA Amendments Act, or Section 702, happened with “full knowledge and assistance of any company from which information is obtained,” De’s answer was: “Yes.”
In regards to Prism, De said that it “was an internal government term that as the result of leaks became the public term,” and that “collection under this program was a compulsory legal process, that any recipient company would receive.”
Essentially, De is saying the companies helped the NSA because they were legally bound to and any claim about not knowing or noncompliance is a lie.
Personally? I bet the truth is somewhere in the middle, as it typically is. In other words, I’m sure companies new about and helped NSA data collection to an extent… but I suspect the NSA went beyond data collection via cooperation with companies without the knowledge of said companies.