Google is furious over NSA spying, starts using stronger encryption to protect data

Google slams government

Google appears to be furious after finding out that the NSA has exploited their and Yahoo’s data centers.

“We are outraged at the lengths to which the government seems to have gone to intercept data from our private fiber networks, and it underscores the need for urgent reform,” David Drummond, who is the chief legal office for Google, told the Post.

The company, along with other tech giants like Facebook and Microsoft, believes that the government should not be able to have this much power, especially when it comes to monitoring them privately.

Mike Hearn, who is a Google security engineer is incensed that Google’s system has been undermined by the government.

“We designed this system to keep criminals out,” Hearn said in a written statement. “There’s no ambiguity here. The warrant system with skeptical judges, paths for appeal, and rules of evidence was built from centuries of hard won experience. When it works, it represents as good a balance as we’ve got between the need to restrain the state and the need to keep crime in check. Bypassing that system is illegal for a good reason.”

Because of these invasions of privacy, Hearn also says that new encryption is being used for Google’s data. “In the absence of working law enforcement, we therefore do what internet engineers have always done – build more secure software,” he said.

It’s interesting that there has been such a backlash from companies now that their own privacy has been compromised by the government. We realize that level and depth of NSA spying is not comparable to data collection done by the likes of Google and Facebook, but, still — they are allowed to invade our privacy and get mad when NSA returns the favor? Touche.

Oh, and by the way, you should also be mad at NSA hacking Google and Yahoo data centers… because the NSA is after your data and while you may feel it is poetic justice against these companies that are known for pushing the boundaries of online privacy, the user is ultimately the target of the NSA. In other words, me and you. If we were terrorists, of course. Wink, wink.

[via Forbes]

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6 comments

  1. Patrikck

    When the NSA was mentionned or hinted at in novels, movies, TV series etc. most people did not appreciiate it’s capacity to collect and analyse really big data or had a good time enjoying the imaginative powers of writers. After all, works of fiction have litlle to do with reality so why take any notice. It looks like reality is worse than fiction – again… Perhaps a lot of fiction readers, movie watchers and series “addicts” should change their views on the relation between fact and fiction or the status of fiction ‘tout court’? There is some writing on the wall out there (but not everywhere). [See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NSA_in_popular_culture for a short list about “NSA in fiction”.]
    About Google, Yahoo!, MS, and the likes of them, they do have a dubious reputation with regard to their privacy policies. When,in the wake of the Patriot Act, US legislation allowed for important infringment on people’s privacy, Google et al. did not protest. In the same period European legislation was considered to be too restrictive (i.e. too protective of personal privacy) both by these giants as by US government. So they lobbied heavily even though many European countries substantially changed their laws to make closer observation and monitoring of all forms of communication possible, in the public ‘domain’ (streets, airports, railwaystations) as well as in the private ‘field’ (homes, companies).
    It was stated by politicians on both sides of the Atlantic that these harsh measures would be temporary and subject to regular scrutiny and would be adapted when “things got back to normal”. And indeed, some regulation has been changed (e.g. some minor changes concerning small luguage in airports). Not because of lower threath levels but because of the introduction of better technology and the boost in (anonymous) security personnel.
    I’m not the only one who thinks that government institutions and private companies are both (and together) very substantial in installing a Bog Brother-like society. IMHO Google’s indignation serves (among other things) to not have their stockmarket value drop to bottom levels. On the other hand, when you look at what users of Twitter, Facebook and other social media or public fora put on the internet for everyone to see and make use of the privacy question seems to be the least of their problems. Add to that the fact that ‘the public’ are quite willing to give up ‘some’ of their privacy for ‘higher security’ and one might (wrongly) conclude that the whole issue is much ado about nothing.
    And finally, nobody has any idea of how to tackle these problems. Let’s at least be honest about that…

    Sorry for spelling errors,
    Pat.

  2. stilofilos

    [@Ashraf] [@Tom]
    Google could at least have used its heavyweight against them, together with those other giants. After all, it’s always such companies that dictate politics. They recently joint forces to ventilate their common indignation, they should have joined earlier…
    Now it is infantile posturing indeed. Anyway, one superspy spied on by an even more ‘super’ one… The laughing stock of the world. Where is justice hiding in the US ?

  3. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    [@Tom] I would hardly call it voluntary. Most of the companies involved had the equivalent of a legal bazooka to their heads. Others? A bit more voluntary, in the name of patriotism. Which one is Google? I doubt we will ever know.