Print 36 comment(s) - last by Alexvrb.. on Nov 8 at 10:30 PM

Google has registered complaints with the NSA, President Barack Obama and members of Congress

Reports are floating around that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has been spying on Google's data centers, and the company isn't happy about it. 

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said that the NSA's alleged spying on data centers is "outrageous" and that its strategies of pulling hundreds of millions of records to find a few hundred is "bad public policy" and even "illegal."

“It’s really outrageous that the National Security Agency was looking between the Google data centers, if that’s true," said Schmidt. "The steps that the organization was willing to do without good judgment to pursue its mission and potentially violate people’s privacy, it’s not OK. The Snowden revelations have assisted us in understanding that it’s perfectly possible that there are more revelations to come.

"The National Security Agency allegedly collected the phone records of every phone call of 320 million people in order to identify roughly 300 people who might be a risk. That’s just bad public policy…and perhaps illegal. There clearly are cases where evil people exist, but you don’t have to violate the privacy of every single citizen of America to find them."

The NSA had allegedly directly accessed communications used by Google and Yahoo to move massive amounts of email and user info in overseas data centers. 

The NSA released the following statement last week: 

“NSA conducts all of its activities in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and policies—and assertions to the contrary do a grave disservice to the nation, its allies and partners, and the men and women who make up the National Security Agency."

Separately, NSA Director General Keith Alexander attempted to banish the allegations by denying that the NSA is able to tap into Google and Yahoo communications. 

"I can tell you factually we do not have access to Google servers, Yahoo servers," said Alexander. "We go through a court order."

This certainly isn't the NSA's first time being accused of overstepping its boundaries. Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden uncovered the spying methods used by U.S. intelligence agencies earlier this year, which included collecting data from phones. This was used to fight terrorist attacks, but the public feared for their privacy after such revelations.

In August, reports said that the NSA admitted to touching 1.6 percent of total globe Web traffic. Its technique was to filter data after harvesting it, which led to over-collection on a major scale. 
Days later, an internal audit showed that the NSA broke the law nearly 3,000 times from 2011 to 2012. More specifically, the May 2012 audit revealed that the NSA had abused its power to either accidentally or intentionally spy on Americans and green card holders 2,997 times in that time period. 
Later in September, The New York Times reported that Snowden revealed just how far the NSA will go to subvert most types of encryption, including court orders, supercomputers, technical stunts and even by working with tech companies to gain back-door access to security methods. 

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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By kleinma on 11/4/2013 12:44:44 PM , Rating: 5
Google really hates the competition on data mining US citizens.

RE: google
By Ranari on 11/4/2013 12:53:28 PM , Rating: 2
Haha, I have to admit that's pretty funny.

RE: google
By Argon18 on 11/4/13, Rating: 0
RE: google
By kattanna on 11/4/2013 2:00:47 PM , Rating: 2
yeppers. Also, if I remember right, it was google+ that also stated any works you posted up on their service, like a picture, they then had license to use as they saw fit without your permission or compensation.

what I also find equally "interesting" is why the sudden outrage now? When I worked for a major ISP back in the late 90's it was well known about the government tap in the datacenter

RE: google
By Solandri on 11/4/2013 3:32:57 PM , Rating: 2
There was a flap over that when Google+ first rolled out which led Google to clarify that the permissions in the terms and conditions were only so they were authorized to serve your posts/photos/etc to you and those whom you chose to share with (or in the case of +1s and endorsements, everyone). It wasn't a blanket license for them to do anything they wanted with your data.

I use Google+ to make lower-res copies of my photos available online because they make it free for photos under 2000x2000 resolution. I made damn sure that I wasn't giving them rights to use my photos for anything they wanted before I signed up with them.

RE: google
By adrift02 on 11/4/2013 2:03:16 PM , Rating: 5
True, but the issue for me is that I *consented* to Google mining my information. And I could stop that any time I want by disconnecting from their service. I know the price I'm paying for "free".

The NSA on the other hand is illegally stealing that same information and violating my rights. It's ridiculous how government and police are saying they can't do their jobs anymore following due process and going through courts (warrant). If they have evidence enough to justify going through my private information they have evidence enough to get it court approved. This isn't 24 -- it's just a power play.

RE: google
By ClownPuncher on 11/4/2013 2:52:29 PM , Rating: 3
One is analogous to rape. The non-consensual one, btw.

RE: google
By Reclaimer77 on 11/4/2013 3:18:05 PM , Rating: 5
Funny how folks get their privacy panties in a twist over the government sifting through their data, yet they freely give full access to Google employees, by agreeing to their terms of use.

Hmmm I don't remember the NSA offering the American public a "terms of agreement" that we can opt out of.

All you Google haters are loving this, I know, but there's a goddamn epic difference between the NSA spying on citizens and how Google operates. And deep down I think you know it.

On the most obvious level is this: What the NSA is doing is illegal. What Google does is not.

RE: google
By Alexvrb on 11/4/2013 9:49:08 PM , Rating: 2
Hey Reclaimer, you know Schmidt and Google are HUGE Obama supporters, right? Kind of ironic, really.

RE: google
By Reclaimer77 on 11/4/2013 10:14:15 PM , Rating: 2
And if Romney was President, they would be HUGE Romney supporters.

Your point is moot. Any corporation as large as Google in this country MUST "pay to play", so to speak. That doesn't mean they necessarily support everything he's doing.

Plus, Obama is a liar. Plain and simple. He lied about all his campaign promises. And he's famous for getting business leaders together and telling them exactly what they want to hear, then doing the exact opposite.

Go ask the insurance companies how they feel about all his assurances (lies) over Obamacare.

RE: google
By Alexvrb on 11/8/2013 10:30:47 PM , Rating: 2
Except they donated money to get Obama ELECTED. TWICE. They donated zero (0) to Romney's campaign. If Romney won... they would save their money and donate to the next Democratic presidential candidate in 2016. My point is NOT moot, because most corporations don't stand exclusively by Obama unless they're his cronies. They supported him twice, but you're so in love with Google that you're blinding yourself to their dedication to his ideals.

Otherwise I agree with you, he's broken virtually every promise that his handlers had him make, and you'd be hard pressed to bankrupt the nation faster if you tried.

RE: google
By inighthawki on 11/4/2013 3:45:26 PM , Rating: 2
Google doesn't treat me like a terrorist and send government agents to arrest me at my doorstep if I search something related to making an explosive.

RE: google
By superflex on 11/4/2013 1:00:40 PM , Rating: 1
The hypocrite has spoken.
F you Eric.

RE: google
By Jeffk464 on 11/4/2013 1:12:11 PM , Rating: 2
There is a little difference here and that Google doesn't have the authority of the government. Google doesn't have the power to target and destroy people who are political enemies of whoever is in power. Every dictatorship implements tactics that are government has put in place over the last 12 years, which is a little scary in my book.

RE: google
By Jeffk464 on 11/4/2013 1:12:57 PM , Rating: 2
eh, our

RE: google
By Jeffk464 on 11/4/2013 1:16:23 PM , Rating: 2
That’s just bad public policy…and perhaps illegal.

Its also bad business, this type of thing should really push people in other countries away from using US based internet services.

Thanks Russia?
By omgwtf8888 on 11/4/2013 12:04:29 PM , Rating: 5
It appears that our biggest patriot is currently living in Russia. As we love to tout our fore fathers and our constitution, remember that it all began by saying that the existing government was wrong. The existing government is presently wrong in trampling, not only our constitution, but the laws and rights of other countries. Snowden has called them out and has been proven to be correct. Apparently, President Obama says he didn't know about any of this. So he should thank Snowden, pardon him, and bring him home a hero.

RE: Thanks Russia?
By Jeffk464 on 11/4/2013 1:06:52 PM , Rating: 2
Ironically English speaking countries that stayed in the Commonwealth now have more democratic governments than what we have here.

RE: Thanks Russia?
By Argon18 on 11/4/2013 1:55:56 PM , Rating: 4
So let me get this straight, Obama claims he knew nothing about this, and you take his word at face value? You believe his BS? Really??

Here's what Obama has done publicly:
1. Extended and expanded the Patiot Act to allow spying on US citizens.
2. Approved drone strikes on US citizens.
3. Approved warrantless wire-tapping of US citizens.

Those are public facts. And you honestly think he didn't order the NSA to perform their spying on US Citizens?

He's playing dumb, using his "plausible deniability" card, but he's the one behind it all. Snowden is just a puppet.

RE: Thanks Russia?
By omgwtf8888 on 11/4/2013 3:33:15 PM , Rating: 4
No I do not believe the President or any member of Congress. Here is what i believe... If I provide proof to the President of the United States that the government is doing unconstitutional, illegal things, than the President should not treat me as a criminal. Rather, the President should investigate these proofs and bring the country into compliance with the law. The person bringing this information to light should be pardoned and welcomed back to his country. If anything i would put him in charge of the NSA just to make sure the people there are doing it right.

RE: Thanks Russia?
By inighthawki on 11/4/2013 3:43:11 PM , Rating: 2
Apparently, President Obama says he didn't know about any of this. So he should thank Snowden, pardon him, and bring him home a hero.

The question is whether or not he'd want to. Imagine he gets a full pardon and does come back. The NSA is just going to double up their efforts to spy on him. Every word he speaks until the day he dies will be recorded. He will have no privacy and constant 24/7 surveillance will be put on him. There's probably no scenario where he could ever come back to the US and be "free"

RE: Thanks Russia?
By ebakke on 11/4/2013 6:42:12 PM , Rating: 2
Arguably that'll happen regardless of which country he lives in.

RE: Thanks Russia?
By inighthawki on 11/4/2013 7:10:34 PM , Rating: 2
Oh no doubt, but it'll be way easier to do it from within the country ;)

Just another gray area
By Samus on 11/4/2013 12:03:11 PM , Rating: 5
I can tell you factually we do not have access to Google servers, Yahoo servers

This is technically correct, because they simply intercept and process data coming to and from the data centers. No direct server access, but in effect, all the information going to and from the servers is logged.

RE: Just another gray area
By LBID on 11/4/2013 2:29:50 PM , Rating: 3
Exactly . Was going to post the same, but you beat me to it. The NSA are absolute masters of double-speak.

By ipay on 11/4/2013 2:39:19 PM , Rating: 2
"If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place." "The only way to manage this is true transparency and no anonymity. In a world of asynchronous threats, it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you. We need a [verified] name service for people. Governments will demand it." "There's been spying for years, there's been surveillance for years, and so forth, I'm not going to pass judgement on that, it's the nature of our society," - Eric Schmidt, giant flaming hypocrite

RE: Hypocrite
By HoosierEngineer5 on 11/4/2013 2:56:21 PM , Rating: 2
Weird how something seems OK until it happens to you.

RE: Hypocrite
By superstition on 11/4/2013 10:31:52 PM , Rating: 2
What happened is that the tech companies with their "do no evil" PR were found out to have no clothes.

Of course, Schmidt said do no evil was stupid.

By PontiusP on 11/4/2013 3:59:48 PM , Rating: 2
Uh, isn't this the same thug who once said that if you aren't doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide? Eric Schitt, you *ARE* the problem.

RE: Thug
By superstition on 11/4/2013 10:29:52 PM , Rating: 2
I love how people believe these corporate stooges.

Carlin: "They don't give a **** about you. They don't give a **** about you... at all.. at all.. at all!"

What do people expect?
By YearOfTheDingo on 11/4/2013 1:25:31 PM , Rating: 2
If the NSA monitors 300,000 people to identify 300 people who might be a risk, then certain high-minded people will complain how that's profiling.

RE: What do people expect?
By Argon18 on 11/4/2013 1:59:38 PM , Rating: 1
That's racist! You're an Islamophobe!

NSA Is A Totalitarian Agency
By bitmover461 on 11/4/2013 3:01:18 PM , Rating: 2
And operating totally outside it's charter, and the Constitution itself. It is frightening that there are actually apologists for this outrageous behavior. If there isn't jailtime and charges of treason out of all this, this country is fail.

By flatrock on 11/4/2013 3:43:45 PM , Rating: 2
When doing debugging of systems I've had to set up a lot of filters and I rarely get one of any real complexity right the first time. If they have to set up a filter and work with live data there is a good chance they will accidentally miss stuff. So they overcapture, and then filter. It is a sound process if you are just trying to make sure you get the data you need, and capturing that much data is possible and acceptable. I can understand why they do it.
I suspect they justify it by saying that even though they capture the data of US citizens, as long as they don't access that data they aren't really spying on all those people. There is some truth to that, but it places an incredible amount a data in easy reach of people who have no business accessing it.

As for the 3000 incidents where they accidentally or intentionally accessed data of people they shouldn't have, I think it is safe to assume that the vast majority were accidental, and considering the the number of people working at the NSA and the number of people who's data they could access, 3000 seems like a pretty low level of accidental violation. I know some people will rant about how even one is too many, but if you want to actually deal with reality, accidents will happen. Cases of mistaken identity alone could easily generate this many incidents, not to mention people accidentally typing in the wrong search data for whatever reason.

Now if there were 3000 intentional violations that were committed by more than one or two bad apples that were caught and prosecuted, then I would say there is a serious problem at the NSA, but the numbers as stated don't really represent a serious problem.

We need to change the law so that searching our metadata held by third party requires probable cause.

I think it should already be covered by the constitution, but the supreme court disagreed, so maybe we even need to consider a constitutional amendment.

If it's illegal
By rsmech on 11/4/2013 11:15:11 PM , Rating: 2
If Google thinks it's illegal shouldn't they be trying to sue or is this just PR to clean their hands (image).

By lagomorpha on 11/5/2013 8:13:20 AM , Rating: 2
Google was Obama's 6th largest campaign contributor ($817,855). What they failed to remember is that he was a politician in Chicago where crooks don't have the common decency to stay bought - instead they get bought over and over and over.

"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook

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