Ongoing investigations into the degree of government surveillance of private businesses and individuals for national security purposes during the Obama era have taken a new turn, as The Guardian released a bombshell report Thursday that the National Security Agency had secretly obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants. Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill report:

The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called Prism, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.

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 document claims “collection directly from the servers” of major US service providers.

Although the presentation claims the program is run with the assistance of the companies, all those who responded to a Guardian request for comment on Thursday denied knowledge of any such program.

This latest revelation comes as the federal government faces scrutiny for secretly monitoring the correspondence and records of reporters at major publications, such as the Associated Press and Fox News through the Department of Justice while investigating national security leaks. A New York Times editorial board column Thursday on the surveillance of Americans read that “the administration has now lost all credibility,” before later updating the end of the sentence with “on this issue.”

On ‘Real News‘ Friday the panel discuseds the discovery of the Prism program and the decline of our privacy rights, watch a clip below: