"The US hostile efforts and its continued spying on Iran and all countries and even their own people is fully known by all and is not surprising, and even this has raised the protest of the American people and intellectuals and we have always condemned such measures," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Araqchi said during a weekly press briefing here in Tehran on Tuesday.
He described the US spying on the world people as a clear violation of democratic values, and said all informed people admit this fact that social networks are a tool in the hand of the US and its spy agencies to gather intelligence and information before being an instrument for people to communicate.
"We hope that (mis)use of such measures will end," Araqchi underscored.
His remarks came after the revelations that major success stories like Google, Apple and Facebook were among nine US companies linked to the secret PRISM spying scheme, which enabled US government officials to mine information about individual users directly from their datacentres.
All the companies named in the documents denied knowledge of PRISM. However, US reports have subsequently claimed that some of the companies helped to make it easier for the government to access information on its servers.
Analysts said that services like Google's and Facebook's are too deeply ingrained in society for users to give up on them altogether, but that concern over privacy issues may prompt a backlash against global operators in favor of a new generation of regional players.
Analysts and commentators have questioned why those companies that resisted handing over customer information did not go a step further and raise the alarm over just how intrusive the US government was becoming.
A 29-year-old man who says he is a former undercover CIA employee said Sunday that he was the principal source of recent disclosures about top-secret National Security Agency programs, exposing himself to possible prosecution in an acknowledgment that had little if any precedent in the long history of US intelligence leaks.
Edward Snowden, a tech specialist who has contracted for the NSA and works for the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, unmasked himself as a source after a string of stories in The Washington Post and the Guardian that detailed previously unknown US surveillance programs. He said he disclosed secret documents in response to what he described as the systematic surveillance of innocent citizens.
In an interview Sunday, Snowden said he is willing to face the consequences of exposure.
"I'm not going to hide," Snowden told The Post from Hong Kong, where he has been staying. "Allowing the US government to intimidate its people with threats of retaliation for revealing wrongdoing is contrary to the public interest."
Asked whether he believes that his disclosures will change anything, he said, "I think they already have. Everyone everywhere now understands how bad things have gotten - and they're talking about it. They have the power to decide for themselves whether they are willing to sacrifice their privacy to the surveillance state."
Snowden said nobody had been aware of his actions, including those closest to him. He said there was no single event that spurred his decision to leak the information, but he said President Obama has failed to live up to his pledges of transparency.