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Mark Zuckerberg Phones Obama To Express Frustration Over NSA Spying

| by Jared Keever

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he called President Barack Obama to voice his frustration over the U.S. government’s ongoing surveillance programs, according to The Telegraph.

Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook wall Thursday telling users of the phone call.

“I've called President Obama to express my frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future,” he wrote, according to Fox News.

Facebook’s founder sought to assure users that the company is continuously acting in their best interests and that he is "confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the U.S. government.”

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“When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we're protecting you against criminals, not our own government,” he added.

The phone call and subsequent Facebook post came just a day after new revelations by the news site The Intercept of an NSA program to spread malware to computers worldwide. The story, based on leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, gives details of a program designated QUANTUMHAND that was widely launched in 2010 by the security agency.  

The program sets up computers to masquerade as Facebook servers and act as platforms from which to launch malware to the computers of people the NSA and other agencies wish to surveil. Once installed on the machines, the software allows the agencies to siphon data from the suspected computers.

Mikko Hypponen, an expert in malware and chief researcher at the Finnish security firm F-Secure, called the program “disturbing” in the Intercept story.

“When they deploy malware on systems, they potentially create new vulnerabilities in these systems, making them more vulnerable for attacks by third parties,” Hypponen said.

He also said that implanting millions of computers with such malware on an automated basis would be “out of control.”

“That would definitely not be proportionate,” Hypponen asserted. “It couldn’t possibly be targeted and named. It sounds like wholesale infection and wholesale surveillance.”

Fox News and The Intercept report that the program started out small but has potentially reached millions of computers now as part of an NSA program dubbed “Owning the Net” in the leaked documents.

Such growth confirms Hypponen’s fears, and it is precisely what concerns Zuckerberg.

“The U.S. government should be the champion for the Internet, not a threat,” Zuckerberg wrote on Thursday. "They need to be much more transparent about what they're doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst."

Sources: The Telegraph, Fox News, The Intercept