The U.S. intelligence chief says a law allowing U.S. government agencies to gather information from Internet companies only permits the targeting of "non-U.S. persons" outside the United States.
James Clapper was responding to articles published by "The Washington Post" and Britain's "The Guardian" newspapers.
Clapper said the stories contained "numerous inaccuracies", and that the disclosure of the programs was "reprehensible."
The "Post" and "The Guardian" reported on June 6 that the U.S. government tapped directly into the servers of leading U.S. Internet companies, allowing agents to examine e-mails, photos, and other documents.
Major tech companies including Apple, Google, and Facebook on June 6 said they did not provide any government agency with "direct access" to their servers.
Earlier, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee confirmed that the government has been secretly collecting the telephone records
of millions of U.S. customers of Verizon under a top-secret court order.
Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and dpa