By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
June 7, 2013

FORTUNE — Apple (AAPL) was one of nine U.S. companies scrambling Friday to distance themselves from reports that they had handed the keys to their server farms to government spies.

The
Washington Post
reported Thursday that the National Security Agency — a U.S. intelligence agency so secretive that for many years even its name was a secret — had been, according to slides promoting its so-called PRISM program,¬†collecting data “directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.”

“We have never heard of PRISM,” was Apple’s response. “We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer data must get a court order.”

For similar denials from the other companies, see here.

By law, the NSA’s intelligence gathering is limited to foreign communications, although its authority was reportedly broadened to include domestic surveillance during the second Bush administration.

UPDATE: The post is apparently backing away somewhat from its original report. See here.

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