The former head of the Austrian Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism, Gert-René Polli, stated he knew the PRISM program under a different name and stated that surveillance activities had occurred in Austria as well.Polli had publicly stated in 2009 that he had received requests from US intelligence agencies to do things that would be in violation of Austrian law, which Polli refused to allow.
The NSA can use these PRISM requests to target communications that were encrypted when they traveled across the internet backbone, to focus on stored data that telecommunication filtering systems discarded earlier, Its existence was leaked six years later by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who warned that the extent of mass data collection was far greater than the public knew and included what he characterized as "dangerous" and "criminal" activities.
The disclosures were published by The Guardian and The Washington Post on June 6, 2013. President Barack Obama, during a visit to Germany, stated that the NSA's data gathering practices constitute "a circumscribed, narrow system directed at us being able to protect our people." PRISM was publicly revealed when classified documents about the program were leaked to journalists of The Washington Post and The Guardian by Edward Snowden – at the time an NSA contractor – during a visit to Hong Kong.
PRISM collects stored internet communications based on demands made to internet companies such as Google Inc.
under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 to turn over any data that match court-approved search terms.
The slide presentation stated that much of the world's electronic communications pass through the U.