Facebook security chief joined NSA in 2010

Max Kelly's career exemplifies the tangled cyberpower nexus upholding our surveillance state

Published June 20, 2013 3:59PM (EDT)

The New York Times revealed Thursday an interesting detail about Silicon Valley and government employment history: Facebook's former chief security officer now works for the NSA. The news serves as further erosion to the line in the sand, tenuously etched between tech giants like Facebook, Google and Yahoo and the intelligence agencies to which they provide vast swathes of user data daily. The NYT reported:

When Max Kelly, the chief security officer for Facebook, left the social media company in 2010, he did not go to Google, Twitter or a similar Silicon Valley concern. Instead the man who was responsible for protecting the personal information of Facebook’s more than one billion users from outside attacks went to work for another giant institution that manages and analyzes large pools of data: the National Security Agency.

Mr. Kelly’s move to the spy agency, which has not previously been reported, underscores the increasingly deep connections between Silicon Valley and the agency and the degree to which they are now in the same business. Both hunt for ways to collect, analyze and exploit large pools of data about millions of Americans.

... Despite the companies’ assertions that they cooperate with the agency only when legally compelled, current and former industry officials say the companies sometimes secretly put together teams of in-house experts to find ways to cooperate more completely with the N.S.A. and to make their customers’ information more accessible to the agency. The companies do so, the officials say, because they want to control the process themselves. They are also under subtle but powerful pressure from the N.S.A. to make access easier.

By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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Facebook Max Kelly Nsa Prism Silicon Valley Surveillance