Google on the NSA 'PRISM' to-do: 'What the ...?'

Larry Page, chief legal officer Drummond pen post in response to recent reports of government snooping

Google's chief executive this afternoon weighed in on the reports from The Guardian and The Washington Post that have created a bit of a firestorm over personal liberty versus anti-terrorism efforts. Parsing Larry Page's post, which is co-authored with Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond, you get the following:

  • First, we have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government—or any other government—direct access to our servers
  • Second, we provide user data to governments only in accordance with the law. Our legal team reviews each and every request, and frequently pushes back when requests are overly broad or don’t follow the correct process.
  • Finally, this episode confirms what we have long believed—there needs to be a more transparent approach.

Read Page and Drummond's full explanation on Google's official blog.

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  • Glad someone is resisting this clear Bill of Rights violation :-P
  • Sadly, it does not seem that Google, nor any other company listed, successfully resisted this clear violation -- notice that the denial used the words "no direct access" given. The statement merely denies the method of delivery. No DIRECT access is not the same as no access. Not a great comfort for freedom loving Americans. Resist media & educational bias, vote for the party of smaller government.
  • It's not a question of large v. small. These policies were initiated by a president of the "small government" party. It's a matter of giving in to fear mongering and "security at any cost" attitudes, which both sides have done.
  • Trust me, GWB was never a proponent of small government. Regardless, while it may have begun sometime in the last two years of his administration, it was then continued AND expanded for the next 5 years by the current administration. This is unacceptable, no matter who does it, but to claim "the most transparent government in history" and then to find all this secret harvesting of information on OUR OWN CITIZENS only underscores the blatant dishonesty of the current circus clown. Sheesh, we weren't even this bad at the height of the cold war! Now, we are behaving just like the Soviets?
  • >>>First, we have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government—or any other government—direct access to our servers>>> Of course we may be aware of them "tapping the pipe" just outside of our server. So I'm not lying. <<>> And the court order was in accordance with the law, so it works for me. <<>> Push back does not mean, "I said no". It means I whined as I rolled over and played dead. BTW: Don't forget Google datamines like crazy for their own nefarious purposes. They are not the men in the white hats.
    Finally, this episode confirms what we have long believed—there needs to be a more transparent approach.
  • Gotta agree, what Google doesn't know they can deny with a clear conscience. There is no way the largest search engine isn't getting data mined themselves.
  • Name someone who is "wearing a white hat" then. There is no such thing.
  • If suing the justice department avoid turning data over (see is "rolling over and playing dead", then what do you need for "I said no"? Page in jail? Google is obligated to follow the law. Insisting that the authorities do the same is about all they can do. Going to court when they and the authorities disagree with each other is pretty much all you can ask, because going much farther really does land your officers in jail.
  • wonder if there is any connection between apparently Google joining the prism program at the start of 2009 and defense contractors starting to use android about that time. one wonders.
  • Bullshit. Sorry Google, you've been in bed with the Obama administration long enough to make a child and that child's name is PRISM.
  • I agree. I am already plotting my way out of Android over this. I am tried of google playing BS.
  • Where will you go? Apple? They're allegedly a part of this PRISM. Windows Phone? They're allegedly part of this PRISM. Blackberry? Yep, them too. Maybe you'll start using a telegraph...nope, when those were popular the government was snooping there too.
    I guess you can enjoy using your messenger pigeons.
  • Uh huh. Right.
  • Damn good of you Larry.
  • No need to abandon android. Its time for a privacy minded aosp build and a way to encrypt our texts calls and e-mail.
  • The United States government should build its own aosp and release for general public use.
  • Sure it's "legal". Just ask the people that passed the law.
  • I find it kinda weird that Larry said that he didn't know. I suggest he use some of that money & start a committee so Google can learn the USA laws.
    Like the said, kinda weird...
  • Oh, please. Those of you who think Google's "denial" means anything are just fooling yourselves, or fools yourselves. If you actually read the news reports, it's perfectly true that google didn't grant the NSA direct access to their servers. They let the NSA put their OWN devices in Google's data centers, and those devices filter the traffic. Google is 100% complicit in a massive violation of the rights of American citizens. There is simply no other rational conclusion. And Google is lying to us. Oh, and those of you who are going to abandon Google because of this? Geez, do you actually read the news? This isn't limited to Google. The NSA has these devices at Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple, and every other big network operator. They're about to do it at Dropbox, and probably eery other cloud storage provider. The government is monitoring nearly everything going through nearly every US internet provider, Verizon's phone data (and probably AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobil--we just don't have proof yet.) An
  • Watch out! Is that a drone over your head?
  • Email: use Lavabit (, though if you want end-to-end encryption, you will need PGP or some variant as well. Cloud Storage: use SpiderOak ( Encrypted end-to-end. Both of these are encrypted with no password recovery, so don't forget your passwords. Not encrypted, but Zoho Calendar seems a good replacement for Google's calendaring option, and they are small enough to be ignored for now. Syncs with both iOS and Android.
  • Sadly, none of this is new, either. I believe PRISM dates back about 10 years? We heard a lot of this before. What shocks me is how many people say, "I don't care. I have nothing to hide." What they don't realize is that at any time, the people who wrote this law can write other ones changing what counts as illegal, and suddenly your ordinary behavior will become something illegal. You may have nothing to hide now, but the people who control the game can change the game out from under you. That's why we all have to be concerned about civil liberties. The people who wrote the Constitution knew what it was like to live under an absolute monarchy that rewrote the rules to suit themselves, over and over.
  • Do I believe this statement by Google? Not at all. First, if such a program is running "on their servers", they would be commanded to say it isn't, under threat of harsh penalties. Think about this for a minute. The NSA is running a program so secretive nobody has heard of it in the 7 years (possibly longer) that they have been running it. Being the largest and most secretive intelligence agency in the world, and an arm of the military, they aren't exactly guys that play soft and nice. No, even if Google were throwing open the doors, and black helicopters were hovering over their campus 24 hours a day, they would still be denying this, saying, "nothing to see here, move along." Second, Google's privacy policy offers little to no privacy protections to the individual. This has been a major issue with Google for years, if anyone has cared to pay attention. Yet, in spite of this, millions of us give Google more and more of our personal information each day. Emails, documents, calendars, what books we read, phone numbers, contacts, to-do lists, store files, the list goes on and on. If you use even half of Google's services, they know you better than some people who interact with you day to day. You can bank on it. Privacy advocates have been after Google to strengthen their privacy policy for years, and Google has steadfastly refused. Are we supposed to believe that since the Government is now the customer for the information, that they are suddenly unwilling to give it up, just as they do to paying customers? Finally, does Google expect us to then believe the NSA just happened to put their name on a Top Secret document, intended to never be seen by any of us, for...what, exactly? To impress young junior agents being trained in the system? Uh... It doesn't make any sense that NSA would even mention them in this document, unless this is all a ruse to distract us from something else, something far worse. If this is a "cat's paw" maneuver, then it is a very good one, considering all the calls for Snowden's head on a platter. They seem convinced this guy should suffer consequences from life imprisonment to assassination. I don't believe for a minute that Google isn't up to its eyebrows in this, which leaves me wondering whatever happened to, "Don't be evil." Hey Google, do you even know what evil is?