Mark Zuckerberg Condemns Feds for Using Facebook to Hack Into Computers

The U.S. government’s online surveillance is jeopardizing the Internet as we know it, Facebook’s CEO wrote Thursday.

Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a press conference at the Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California on May 26, 2010. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
National Journal
Dustin Volz
March 13, 2014, 12:08 p.m.

Face­book founder Mark Zuck­er­berg took to his own site Thursday to cri­ti­cize Pres­id­ent Obama and his ad­min­is­tra­tion for its secret spy­ing tac­tics and to urge great­er trans­par­ency of its on­line-sur­veil­lance pro­grams.

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

The missive was is­sued in par­tial re­sponse to re­ports this week that the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency has de­ployed spoofs of the so­cial net­work to in­fect com­puters with mal­ware “im­plants.” The Menlo Park, Cal­if.-based com­pany has denied hav­ing any know­ledge of any such pro­gram and said it’s new en­cryp­tion stand­ards would block any such hack­ing.

Zuck­er­berg enu­mer­ated the way his com­pany works to keep user pri­vacy se­cure on Face­book, ex­plain­ing that such safe­guards are the un­der­pin­nings of the In­ter­net and make it a “shared space” every­one can par­ti­cip­ate in.

But gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance is dis­rupt­ing what the In­ter­net is and wants to be, Zuck­er­berg said.

“That’s why I’ve been so con­fused and frus­trated by the re­peated re­ports of the be­ha­vi­or of the U.S. gov­ern­ment,” he said. “When our en­gin­eers work tire­lessly to im­prove se­cur­ity, we ima­gine we’re pro­tect­ing you against crim­in­als, not our own gov­ern­ment.”

Zuck­er­berg also said he has called Obama to share his frus­tra­tion “over the dam­age the gov­ern­ment is cre­at­ing for all of our fu­ture.” But “it seems like it will take a very long time for true full re­form,” the bil­lion­aire ad­ded.

UP­DATE: The Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency on Thursday denied us­ing a dop­pel­gang­er ver­sion of Face­book, say­ing it lacks the abil­ity to do so and only con­ducts for­eign in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tions that are “law­ful and ap­pro­pri­ate.”

What We're Following See More »
Trade Bill Would Ban Imports Made with Slave Labor
28 minutes ago

“A bill headed for President Barack Obama this week includes a provision that would ban U.S. imports of fish caught by slaves in Southeast Asia, gold mined by children in Africa and garments sewn by abused women in Bangladesh, closing a loophole in an 85-year-old tariff law.” The Senate approved the bill, which would also ban Internet taxes and overhaul trade laws, by a vote of 75-20. It now goes to President Obama.

Sanders Closes to Within Seven Nationally in New Poll
41 minutes ago

Bernie Sanders has closed to within seven points of Hillary Clinton in a new Morning Consult survey. Clinton leads 46%-39%. Consistent with the New Hampshire voting results, Clinton does best with retirees, while Sanders leads by 20 percentage points among those under 30. On the Republican side, Donald Trump is far ahead with 44% support. Trailing by a huge margin are Ted Cruz (17%), Ben Carson (10%) and Marco Rubio (10%).

Sanders and Clinton Spar Over … President Obama
12 hours ago

President Obama became a surprise topic of contention toward the end of the Democratic debate, as Hillary Clinton reminded viewers that Sanders had challenged the progressive bona fides of President Obama in 2011 and suggested that someone might challenge him from the left. “The kind of criticism that we’ve heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans, I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama,” she said. “Madame Secretary, that is a low blow,” replied Sanders, before getting in another dig during his closing statement: “One of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate.”

THE 1%
Sanders’s Appeals to Minorities Still Filtered Through Wall Street Talk
13 hours ago

It’s all about the 1% and Wall Street versus everyone else for Bernie Sanders—even when he’s talking about race relations. Like Hillary Clinton, he needs to appeal to African-American and Hispanic voters in coming states, but he insists on doing so through his lens of class warfare. When he got a question from the moderators about the plight of black America, he noted that during the great recession, African Americans “lost half their wealth,” and “instead of tax breaks for billionaires,” a Sanders presidency would deliver jobs for kids. On the very next question, he downplayed the role of race in inequality, saying, “It’s a racial issue, but it’s also a general economic issue.”

Clinton Already Pivoting Her Messaging
14 hours ago

It’s been said in just about every news story since New Hampshire: the primaries are headed to states where Hillary Clinton will do well among minority voters. Leaving nothing to chance, she underscored that point in her opening statement in the Milwaukee debate tonight, saying more needs to be done to help “African Americans who face discrimination in the job market” and immigrant families. She also made an explicit reference to “equal pay for women’s work.” Those boxes she’s checking are no coincidence: if she wins women, blacks and Hispanics, she wins the nomination.