The Guardian's report was based on a classified Powerpoint presentation on the program--called PRISM--through which the U.S. government has been covertly collecting information via massive surveillance of the Internet.
"The Guardian has verified the authenticity of the document, a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation--classified as top secret with no distribution to foreign allies--which was apparently used to train intelligence operatives on the capabilities of the program," the paper said. "The document claims 'collection directly from the servers' of major US service providers."
Internet companies contacted by the Guardian denied any knowledge of the secret program.
Google provided a statement to the newspaper that said: "Google cares deeply about the security of our users' data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government 'back door' into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data."
The complete story by The Guardian can be found here.
The Washington Post also reported on the story.
"The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track one target or trace a whole network of associates, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post," the paper said.
"Equally unusual," said the Post, "is the way the NSA extracts what it wants, according to the document: 'Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.'"
The complete Washington Post story can be found here.