It's being reported by the Guardian and Washington Post that the US National Security Agency can routinely access the sensitive data stored by big web firms including Facebook, Google, Skype, Microsoft, Yahoo, YouTube and Apple.
Top secret slides from the US National Security Agency say that email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP chats (eg. Skype), file transfers, video conferencing, social networking details and 'Special Requests' are all collectable.
The web companies' response has been that if this has been happening, they were unaware of it and that they don't give government direct access to their servers.
The Director of US National Intelligence, clearly talking with a US audience in mind, said that the law allowing this apparent collection of communications ensures that only "non-U.S. persons outside the U.S. are targeted."
Such a statement is intended to put American minds at rest. Where this leaves the rest of the world - including UK citizens, businesses, charities, MPs, campaigners and NGOs - is another matter.
In the light of this, the UK Government has very serious questions to answer.
In addition, a Parliamentary investigation is required. Companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo need to answer to Parliament as to what data about UK citizens may have been included in the PRISM programme. The investigation should also ask questions of representatives of the UK Government and the intelligence agencies to bring transparency to clear up whether they had any involvement in the PRISM.