Peter Suderman presents a list of ways in which the panicked denials by top management of Google, Facebook, and Yahoo can be reconciled with the Washington Post story claiming that the NSA is “directly tapping into the central servers” of the companies. The potential explanations he lists are:
- The statements the companies have released so far are technically accurate—but the companies are involved anyway.
- The tech companies are involved in an NSA data gathering program, but only a very small number of people in each company knows about the involvement.
- The tech companies are not telling the truth.
- The NSA is accessing tech company servers without the knowledge of those companies.
The first explanation is what immediately occurred to me. The second, plausible deniability, sounds equally likely. I guess it’s also possible that the Post’s sources are mistaken or lying but my sense is that those explanations are less plausible than one or more of the others. I don’t think that Mark Zuckerberg has given us any particular reason to trust him or that we should believe that Larry Page wouldn’t bend over backwards to cooperate with government authorities (any government) if it maintained or improved Google’s position with them.