What the…?

By: Paul Nail 6.8.13

The back office chatter might have gone something like: You think it’s time; we rethink the money we spent on their campaigns… You can’t do that… Don’t mention those data mining deals we traded for… It looks bad… Yeah I know… Well… Just go ahead and say it…  OK… I’m your lawyer and we need to start writing your alibi…  Use the Baracka-claus algorithm, will make it a false positive. You’ve got to giggle the one you googled with.

Na, you don’t really think it happened like that…. do you…?

(Post)

Dear Google users—

You may be aware of press reports alleging that Internet companies have joined a secret U.S. government program called PRISM to give the National Security Agency direct access to our servers. As Google’s CEO and Chief Legal Officer, we wanted you to have the facts.

First, we have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government—or any other government—direct access to our servers. Indeed, the U.S. government does not have direct access or a “back door” to the information stored in our data centers. We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday.

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. Press reports that suggest that Google is providing open-ended access to our users’ data are false, period. Until this week’s reports, we had never heard of the broad type of order that Verizon received—an order that appears to have required them to hand over millions of users’ call records. We were very surprised to learn that such broad orders exist. Any suggestion that Google is disclosing information about our users’ Internet activity on such a scale is completely false.

Finally, this episode confirms what we have long believed—there needs to be a more transparent approach. Google has worked hard, within the confines of the current laws, to be open about the data requests we receive. We post this information on our Transparency Report whenever possible. We were the first company to do this. And, of course, we understand that the U.S. and other governments need to take action to protect their citizens’ safety—including sometimes by using surveillance. But the level of secrecy around the current legal procedures undermines the freedoms we all cherish.

Posted by Larry Page, CEO and David Drummond, Chief Legal Officer

Larry Page is an American computer scientist and Internet entrepreneur who is the co-founder of Google, alongside Sergey Brin. On April 4, 2011, Page became the chief executive officer. David C. Drummond is Senior Vice President, of Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer. Drummond joined Google in 2002, initially as vice president.

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