Saying he’s “confused and frustrated” by the government’s Internet surveillance, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday that he called President Obama to complain about “the damage the government is creating for all of our future.”
Zuckerberg called the President on Wednesday night after a news website, The Intercept, reported that the U.S. National Security Agency planted surveillance software with the help of computers that masqueraded as Facebook servers.
Saying the Internet depends on security and trust, Zuckerberg disclosed the call Thursday in a post for people who follow him on his own Facebook account:
“This is why I’ve been so confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the US government. When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government.”
“The US government should be the champion for the internet, not a threat. They need to be much more transparent about what they’re doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst.
“I’ve called President Obama to express my frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future. Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform.”
In a report posted on The Intercept on Wednesday morning, journalist Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher said that documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show the government has infected the computers of targeted individuals by making NSA-controlled servers act as if they are Facebook servers.
The documents suggest the program was not aimed at broad surveillance, but it’s unclear how widely it was used. When a targeted individual tried to access a page on Facebook, the report indicated, the NSA was able to send that person instead to a server controlled by the agency. The NSA then used its own server to send malware to the target’s computer, and perhaps even copy files from the target’s computer, according to the report.
It’s not the first time Zuckerberg has voiced frustration about NSA programs, but it’s the first time he has spoken publicly about raising the subject with Obama.
UPDATE: The NSA denied reports about the Facebook program in a statement issued Thursday.
(Photo by Gary Reyes/Mercury News of Zuckerberg and Obama during happier times, when the President visited Facebook’s offices in 2011.)