For months Google’s top lawyer, David Drummond, has been saying that “the [US] government does not have access to Google servers — not directly, or via a back door.”
But his statement about the newly revealed leaked documents from Edward Snowden, reported by the Washington Post, is quite different. The documents include a hand-sketched drawing of where the NSA is allegedly tapping Google’s private network, in a newly exposed program called MUSCULAR.
Now the chief legal officer, David Drummond, says Google is “concerned” and “outraged.”
Here’s the full statement Drummond sent to Arik Hesseldahl at AllThingsD:
“We have long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping, which is why we have continued to extend encryption across more and more Google services and links, especially the links in the slide. We do not provide any government, including the U.S. government, with access to our systems. We are outraged at the lengths to which the government seems to have gone to intercept data from our private fibre networks, and it underscores the need for urgent reform.”
This sketch (which reportedly caused two Google engineers to explode in profanity, the Washington Post said) shows the spots where the NSA could allegedly bypass Google’s security methods.
It’s not exactly the same as giving the government a back door to Google’s servers, but that’s splitting hairs. The sketch shows that the NSA is grabbing data off the wires that connect servers and data centres.
Meanwhile, NSA tweeted a statement of its own. It didn’t deny the existence of the MUSCULAR program. But it did insist that it is not collecting ‘vast quantities’ of data on U.S. citizens:
“NSA has multiple authorities that it uses to accomplish its mission, which is centered on defending the nation. The Washington Post’s assertion that we use Executive Order 12333 collection to get around the limitations imposed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and FAA 702 is not true. The assertion that we collect vast quantities of U.S. persons’ data from this type of collection is also not true. NSA applies attorney general-approved processes to protect the privacy of U.S. persons — minimising the likelihood of their information in our targeting, collection, processing, exploitation, retention, and dissemination. NSA is a foreign intelligence agency. And we’re focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets only.”
We reached out to Google for further comment.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.