Government-tech ties: Ex-Facebook exec moved to NSA, Amazon's CIA deal, more

In the wake of the revelations about National Security Agency surveillance practices, news about government and tech ties just keeps coming.

• Where did Facebook chief security officer Max Kelly go after he left the social network in 2010? To the NSA, according to the New York Times, which says it’s the first to report that tidbit. Also previously unreported, says the NYT, is that Internet-call provider Skype developed a program to make it easier to cooperate with law enforcement and the government.

These are just a couple of examples that contribute to the tangled, complex relationship between the tech industry and the government — both of which collect tons of information about everyday citizens. As the NYT says, the government is one of the biggest customers of tech companies’ data analytics, and intelligence agencies invest in Silicon Valley startups.

The news comes as tech companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook and Yahoo try to reassure the public that they do not give direct access to user data under the recently revealed NSA Prism program. The program is meant to collect Internet users’ information in connection with foreign terrorist suspects, but its critics say it could also scoop up online communications of American citizens.

• Speaking of the government as a tech customer, Amazon has won a $600 million contract to build a “private cloud” for the CIA. The Seattle company already is a private-cloud provider for the U.S. government, but for “less sensitive matters,” according to Quartz. Wired reports that Amazon’s private clouds for the government conflict with its previous advocacy of the public cloud — its contract with the CIA involves building services inside the agency’s data centers.

 

Photo of NSA building in Maryland from Associated Press archives

Levi Sumagaysay Levi Sumagaysay (3903 Posts)

Levi Sumagaysay is editor of the combined SiliconBeat and Good Morning Silicon Valley. She also helps take care of SiliconValley.com, the Mercury News tech website. Email: lsumagaysay (at) bayareanewsgroup (dot-com).