What do Google, AOL, Skype, Facebook, Apple, Hotmail and Yahoo all have in common? They have all been caught turning over private user data to the government’s spy agency, the NSA. All these companies routinely turn over the emails, voice calls, text chats, photos, files and even logins and passwords of their users, including Americans.
“There is a massive apparatus within the United States government that with complete secrecy has been building this enormous structure that has only one goal,” journalist Glenn Greenwald recently told Piers Morgan (who knows all about spying and hacking people’s private data). “And that is to destroy privacy and anonymity not just in the United States but around the world.”
In the aftermath of the PRISM spying scandal, the first and logical response was an expected one: lie. Thepresident did it, and so did the various companies implicated in the biggest US surveillance scandal ever exposed. To wit:
Zuckerberg: “Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the US or any other government direct access to our servers.”
Google CEO Larry Page: “We have not joined any program that would give the US government – or any other government – direct access to our servers.”
Yahoo: “We do not provide the government with direct access to our servers, systems, or network.”
One small problem: they are all lying.
The NYT explains just how the explicit handover of private customer data from Corporate Server X to NSA Server Y takes place.
The companies that negotiated with the government include Google, which owns YouTube; Microsoft, which owns Hotmail and Skype; Yahoo; Facebook; AOL; Apple; and Paltalk, according to one of the people briefed on the discussions. The companies were legally required to share the data under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. People briefed on the discussions spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are prohibited by law from discussing the content of FISA requests or even acknowledging their existence.
In at least two cases, at Google and Facebook, one of the plans discussed was to build separate, secure portals, like a digital version of the secure physical rooms that have long existed for classified information, in some instances on company servers. Through these online rooms, the government would request data, companies would deposit it and the government would retrieve it, people briefed on the discussions said.
The UK’s electronic eavesdropping and security agency, GCHQ, has been secretly gathering intelligence from the world’s biggest internet companies through a covertly run operation set up by America’s top spy agency, documents obtained by the Guardian reveal.
The documents show that GCHQ, based in Cheltenham, has had access to the system since at least June 2010, and generated 197 intelligence reports from it last year.
The US-run programme, called Prism, would appear to allow GCHQ to circumvent the formal legal process required to seek personal material such as emails, photos and videos from an internet company based outside the UK.
Classified information obtained by the Washington Post and The Guardian has revealed a massive, warrantless online surveillance system in use by a US military intelligence agency, giving access to Americans’ search history, emails, live chats and more.
The 41-page PowerPoint presentation, which has been verified by both papers and published almost concurrently on Thursday evening, outlines details of a previously undisclosed program known as PRISM, which allows the fabled military intelligence agency to harvest massive amounts of data on everything from electronic correspondence to file transfers.
The slides were meant to be declassified in 2036.
According to the documents, the program currently boasts access to some of the largest Internet companies in the world, with Microsoft thought to be the first corporation to sign onto the surveillance arrangement in 2007.
That company’s participation was followed by Yahoo in 2008, Google, Facebook and PalTalk in 2009, YouTube in 2010, Skype and AOL in 2011, and Apple joining in 2012. Meanwhile, cloud storage company Dropbox is described as “coming soon.”
With the participation of those companies, PRISM and thereby Washington intelligence workers have access to the bulk of Americans’ email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP (Skype) chats, file transfers, social networking details and more. Continue reading »
And there it is. Moments ago Bloomberg disclosed the final terms of the just launched Goldman-led syndication of AAPL paper. The total size: $17 billion, which surpasses the previous record set by Roche at $16.5 billion, and makes it the biggest corporate bond synidcation in history. The breakdown:
$1B 3Y FRN LAUNCH AT 3ML + 5 BPS
$1.5B 3Y FIXED NOTES LAUNCH AT + 20 BPS
$2B 5Y FRN LAUNCH AT 3ML+25 BPS
$4B 5Y FIXED NOTES LAUNCH AT + 40 BPS
$5.5B 10Y FIXED NOTES LAUNCH AT +75 BPS
$3B 30Y DEBT LAUNCHES AT +100 BPS
30 Year paper in a tech company whose market cap has fluctuated by roughly $500 billion in the past year, and yielding just under 4%?
Everyone knows that for the better part of the past year Apple, Inc. (“AAPL”, or “The Company”) was the world’s biggest company by market cap, with Exxon finally regaining that title on Friday, following AAPL’s latest price drop in the aftermath of its disappointing earnings. Most know that AAPL aggressively uses all legal tax loopholes to pay as little State and Federal tax as possible, despite being one of the world’s most profitable companies.Many also know, courtesy of our exclusive from September, that Apple also is the holding company for Braeburn Capital: a firm which with a few exceptions (Bridgewater; JPM’s CIO prop trading desk) also happens to be one of the world’s largest hedge funds, whose function is to manage Apple’s massive cash hoard, with virtually zero requirements, and whose obligation is to make sure that AAPL’s cash gets laundered legally and efficiently in a way that complies with prerogative #1: avoid paying taxes.
What few if any know, is that as part of its cash management obligations, Braeburn, and AAPL by extension, has conducted a mindboggling $600 billion worth of gross notional trades in just the past four years, consisting of buying and selling assorted unknown securities, or some $250 billion in 2012 alone: a grand total which represents some $1 billion per working day on average, and which puts the net turnover of some 99% of all hedge funds to shame!
Finally, what nobody knows, except for the recipients of course, is just how much in trade commissions AAPL has paid over the past four years on these hundreds of billions in trades to the brokering banks, many (or maybe all) of which may have found this commission revenue facilitating AAPL having a “Buy” recommendation: a rating shared by 52, or 83% of the raters, despite the company’s wiping out of one year in capital gains in a few short months.