theodp writes "After Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg denied knowledge of the Internet surveillance program PRISM, the Washington Post's Barton Gellman and Laura Poitras explained, "It is possible that the conflict between the PRISM slides and the company spokesmen is the result of imprecision on the part of the NSA author. In another classified report obtained by The Post, the arrangement is described as allowing 'collection managers [to send] content tasking instructions directly to equipment installed at company-controlled locations,' rather than directly to company servers." Which sounds an awful lot like Facebook's Automated Writ Response System, an invention overlooked by the press for which Facebook was granted U.S. Patent No. 8,438,181 on May 7, 2013, a month to the day before Zuckerberg's I-know-nothing post. From the patent: "In one implementation, writ response system supports a set of APIs that allows writ portal system to register writ requests for processing. In one implementation, writ response system supports HTTP functionality allowing writ portal system to transmit writ requests. In one implementation, a writ request includes one or more of the following attributes: a user identifier (or identifying information that maps to a user identifier), a type of writ (e.g., preservation request, pen register, subpoena, warrant, etc.), an identifier for the requesting law enforcement agency [LEA], and one or more tags describing meta information about the request, and copies of (or links to) supporting documentation (including, in some instances, the formal writ itself). As discussed below, writ response system is operative to process the request, schedule one or more synchronous and/or asynchronous data generation jobs, and deliver a response to the writ request." Another passage notes that the "writ portal system may be maintained by a specialized, third party service or platform." So, if it walks like a PRISM duck, quacks like a PRISM duck, and looks like a PRISM duck, is it a PRISM duck?"