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Zuckerberg Phones Obama to Complain About NSA Spying

Facebook founder calls President Obama in the wake of report that the NSA took advantage of Facebook for its spying program.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 3/14/2014, 6:13 AM

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg
Reuters

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is frustrated with the National Security Agency’s (NSA) use of his social network to spy on people.

In fact, Fox News reported, Zuckerberg called President Barack Obama on Thursday to express his frustrations and concerns over the spying.

“I've called President Obama to express my frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook wall. “Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform.”

The call came following an alarming report that the NSA has been apeing his company’s servers to install malware on other computers.

On Wednesday, Glenn Greenwald wrote on The Intercept of the NSA’s efforts to dramatically expand its program of mass hacking, citing classified files provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The documents, according to Fox News, call out a program called QUANTUMHAND, which was launched on a wide scale in 2010 and masquerades as a Facebook server to act as a “launching pad” for malware that infects computers and sneaks files from their hard drives.

The report was only the latest in a months-long leak of secret programs from the NSA -- but clearly one Zuckerberg took personally.

“We encourage people to use multiple factors for authentication and we go out of our way to help fix issues we find in other people's services. The Internet works because most people and companies do the same,” he wrote.

“This is why I've been so confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the U.S. government. When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we're protecting you against criminals, not our own government,” said Zuckerberg, according to Fox News.

The government program cited in the latest leak reportedly began as a way to hit hard-to-reach targets around a decade ago. The spy agency’s malware-spreading efforts have since proliferated to potentially millions of computers around the globe -- part of what the NSA documents call its “Owning the Net” program.

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

Snowden’s leaks revealed a global surveillance system of unprecedented proportions, and sparked controversy between the U.S. and foreign leaders that had their privacy breached. 

One such diplomatic row was with Germany, whose Chancellor Angela Merkel  accused the U.S. of tapping her mobile phone.

Even Israel is not immune from surveillance, as recently leaked Snowden documents showed that the U.S. had been monitoring the email traffic of Israeli officials, including former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

It has also been reported that the NSA recorded millions of phone calls in France, including calls involving individuals with no links to terrorism, and that the agency had collected almost 200 million text messages a day from across the globe, using them to extract data including location, contact networks and credit card details.

It is not just Facebook that was used by the NSA in its spying program. A report in January indicated that the NSA and its UK had the capabilities to take advantage of "leaky" smartphone apps, such as the wildly popular Angry Birds game, that transmit users' private information across the internet.