WASHINGTON, June 8 (UPI) -- Major U.S. Internet companies denied having any role in the federal government's massive data-mining of users' Web searches and communications.
Chief executive officers of Facebook and Google Friday said their companies were not parties to PRISM, the monitoring project in which the U.S. National Security Agency sought access to huge flows of data to look for tips on potential terrorist activities.
The revelation of PRISM, after officials allegedly asked Verizon for access to its system, drew criticism from privacy advocates and had Internet executives stating they were not allowing U.S. spies to nose through their users' information.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a statement swearing the company he founded had never been asked for "information of meta data in bulk" as Verizon had, Politico reported Saturday.
Google CEO Larry Page and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond wrote in a joint statement, "Press reports that suggest that Google is providing open-ended access to our users' data are false, period."
Internet experts told The Hill it was doubtful the NSA or other government agencies hacked into the companies' servers without permission and accessed such vast amounts of data surreptitiously.
Some officials speculated the government's management of data legally obtained through warrants of limited scope might have been misconstrued as a wider-scope operation.
"There is something about this story we still don't understand," one anonymous company official said.