Edward Snowden is doing a live Q&A with the Guardian, and one of the most important questions has already hit: what's up with all of the very similar dismissals of "direct access" coming from Facebook, Apple, and the rest? Snowden's not buying it.
Snowden claims "their denials went through several revisions as it become more and more clear they were misleading"—ergo, companies like Yahoo and Facebook really are in cahoots with the NSA on a way more intimate basis than they've stated publicly. Although he admits these companies are legally bound to deny this kind of participation, even if it is true, "that does not comply them [sic] from ethical obligation."
Full answer below.
Their denials went through several revisions as it become more and more clear they were misleading and included identical, specific language across companies. As a result of these disclosures and the clout of these companies, we're finally beginning to see more transparency and better details about these programs for the first time since their inception.
They are legally compelled to comply and maintain their silence in regard to specifics of the program, but that does not comply them from ethical obligation. If for example Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple refused to provide this cooperation with the Intelligence Community, what do you think the government would do? Shut them down?
And no, the government probably wouldn't "shut them down," but it might send some executives to prison.