Do Israeli Companies Help the NSA Spy on US Citizens?
The revelation that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been gathering troves of data on individuals' telephone and internet activity was a shock to many Americans who assumed that their phone and email records were private. The leaking of the PRISM program by an ex-NSA contractor has set off a furious debate about civil liberties in America.
Of interest to Israel watchers has been the intense speculation on the cooperation between Israeli hi-tech firms and US security services. For several years there have been allegations that VERINT SYSTEMS LTD has been a sub contractor for NSA domestic surveillance programs like PRISIM. In fact, all the way back in 2008 this connection was discussed by author and analyst James Bamford on the Democracy Now program.
According to Bamford, VERINT helps companies like AT&T and Verizon tap and analyze large amounts of data over their networks. In a feature article for Wired called Shady Companies With Ties to Israel Wiretap the U.S. for the NSA, Bamford outlines the many connections between the world of Israeli high-tech and the NSA.
While the allegations mentioned above, that Israel helps the NSA spy on US citizens, may be controversial in the US, most Israelis aren't too surprised. Israel is a country based on common law and its citizens do not have the same constitutional protections as US citizens enjoy via the first and fourth amendments. As a country that has to deal with an ongoing terror threat that is much more serious than the situation in the US, most Israelis don’t have any qualms about techniques the government uses to snoop or spy on its own citizens.
That being said, Israeli companies that produce big data analysis systems like VERINT may want to think before accepting their next contract from the NSA or CIA. In this age or leaks and whistle blowers, their involvement in such activities is not likely to be kept a secret for very long.