[Follow-Up] Google Calls Out US Government on NSA Spying Issue

dgstorm

Editor in Chief
Staff member
Premium Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2010
Messages
10,991
Reaction score
3,961
Location
Austin, TX
google-super-hero.jpg

Earlier in the week we shared breaking news about Verizon being forced to give up customer phone records to the NSA by a Top Secret Court order. A political and ethical firestorm erupted and it has dominated the mainstream news scene ever since.

More info has since come to light, and the whistleblower himself, a man named Edward Snowden, came forward admitting he was the one who leaked the documents. Snowden formerly worked for the CIA and also just recently worked as a contractor for the NSA. He is now hiding out in Hong Kong while the U.S. Government debates on how to get him back and possibly prosecute him as a traitor. Some are hailing him as a hero. He gave up a $200,000 dollar a year job, his family and his girlfriend, knowing that leaking the evidence would probably ruin his life. Of course, there are two sides to this debate and there are those who would argue he betrayed an important duty. Our Government is simply trying to do the impossible job of protecting us from possible terrorism by gathering as much data as possible to predict future events. It is perhaps the greatest balancing act a government can perform, trying to weigh safety and security versus freedom and liberty.

Regardless, this is not a political forum and the secret universal answers to this issue will probably not be discovered here. However, there is something that is specifically relevant to our forum that we would like to share with you today. One of the documents Snowden leaked also talked about a secret NSA program called PRISM which is basically a secret wiretapping of our biggest internet and technology companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple and many more. Supposedly, the network activity for these companies has been closely monitored by the NSA for some time. All of the big names came forward denying it. Google has been particularly vocal about this, and Larry Page even took the stage expressing disgust and assuring Google customers that their servers are 100% secure and none of their data has been given to the government unless a valid and non-secret legal request has been made.

Today, Google took things a step further and has called out the U.S. Government on this issue. Google sent a legal request to the U.S. Government requesting Google be given the ability to be more transparent and publicly publish even more national security related data. Here's a quote with the full blog post from Google,

Asking the U.S. government to allow Google to publish more national security request data

This morning we sent the following letter to the offices of the Attorney General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Read the full text below. -Ed.

Dear Attorney General Holder and Director Mueller

Google has worked tremendously hard over the past fifteen years to earn our users’ trust. For example, we offer encryption across our services; we have hired some of the best security engineers in the world; and we have consistently pushed back on overly broad government requests for our users’ data.

We have always made clear that we comply with valid legal requests. And last week, the Director of National Intelligence acknowledged that service providers have received Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests.

Assertions in the press that our compliance with these requests gives the U.S. government unfettered access to our users’ data are simply untrue. However, government nondisclosure obligations regarding the number of FISA national security requests that Google receives, as well as the number of accounts covered by those requests, fuel that speculation.

We therefore ask you to help make it possible for Google to publish in our Transparency Report aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures—in terms of both the number we receive and their scope. Google’s numbers would clearly show that our compliance with these requests falls far short of the claims being made. Google has nothing to hide.

Google appreciates that you authorized the recent disclosure of general numbers for national security letters. There have been no adverse consequences arising from their publication, and in fact more companies are receiving your approval to do so as a result of Google’s initiative. Transparency here will likewise serve the public interest without harming national security.

We will be making this letter public and await your response.

David Drummond
Chief Legal Officer

So far, the response to Google taking the government to task on this issue has been resoundingly positive. Google is being hailed for their courage and their renewed dedication to further transparency. Basically Google is making it clear they won't stand for what has happened, and they want to prove beyond any doubt that they have not been coerced by the U.S. Government. It's laudable that Google was the first to take such a hard-line in the sand stance, and it will be interesting to see if other companies follow suit. Share your thoughts on Google's move and what you think might come about from this action.

Thanks for the tip, wicked!

Source: Google Blog
 
Last edited:

johnomaz

Silver Member
Joined
Jul 12, 2010
Messages
3,187
Reaction score
633
Location
Central Valley, California
Current Phone Model
Google Pixel 2XL
As Michael Scott from The Office once said "you expect to get screwed over by your company, you don't expect to get screwed over by your girlfriend". Just replace company with government.

I'd like to know if any actual leads were discovered in the *listening in* they've done. Have they stopped actual terror plots. Have they foiled criminals? Has the power been abused for reasons completely aside from its actual purpose? I see it like Google. Billions of bits of data go through every second and some serious computing power is used to pick up key words/phrases. No group of people is actually listening to every conversation or anything. I don't think its ok, but at the same time, welcome to post 9/11 America. Sadly, America is still better than so many other countries. Every country has its issues and they all begin at the top, the government.
 

kodiak799

Gold Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2010
Messages
6,146
Reaction score
827
I'd like to know if any actual leads were discovered in the *listening in* they've done.

I'm sure they have. And according to Obama, this intel (broadly speaking) accounts for about 1 in 7 leads.

The key question is how effective is it, really, with terrorist cells increasingly going off the grid. Of course the Boston guys had quite a digital trail, but they fell thru the cracks.

At some point, the potential for the govt to abuse this power becomes the greater risk.
 

Tonik

Active Member
Joined
Sep 11, 2011
Messages
670
Reaction score
58
With all due respect to the author Google isn't taking the government to task. Taking them to task would be fighting some of this in court. Especially the PRISIM system.

This is a PR move.
 
OP
dgstorm

dgstorm

Editor in Chief
Staff member
Premium Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2010
Messages
10,991
Reaction score
3,961
Location
Austin, TX
With all due respect to the author Google isn't taking the government to task. Taking them to task would be fighting some of this in court. Especially the PRISIM system.

This is a PR move.

I definitely see your point of view, but sometimes going public is actually the more difficult thing. If Google wanted to take on the government in the courts, they could be forced into using the Secret Court system. By immediately going public, it is painting a big red target on themselves for everyone to see. It also strategically puts the government in a position to respond or look even worse. Also, perhaps this is just the first step. Maybe Google intends to fight things in court. Regardless, it's great to see them take a stance.
 
Last edited:

gadgetrants

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2010
Messages
1,286
Reaction score
197
Current Phone Model
Google Pixel
With all due respect to the author Google isn't taking the government to task. Taking them to task would be fighting some of this in court. Especially the PRISIM system.

This is a PR move.
^This. Actually, my first thought was, "Gee, if I ran a company where the slogan was 'Don't be evil' but I actually didn't believe it, then what I'd do is cooperate with the government with one hand, and then tell them that I was planning to issue (totally meaningless) press statements with the other hand that appeared to neither condone nor cooperate with the government." In other words, keep the public happy while actually pleasing the people in power.

Without real action, it's 100% impossible to know if this statement is sincere. By all accounts, the government response will be to get lost, and google will end up looking like the good guy (who lost).

-Matt

DISCLAIMER: the older I get, the more quickly I buy into absurd conspiracy theories (except the "We didn't really land on the moon," and "9/11 was really the US govt." type stuff)!
 
Last edited:

FunN4Lo

Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2010
Messages
939
Reaction score
20
With all due respect to the author Google isn't taking the government to task. Taking them to task would be fighting some of this in court. Especially the PRISIM system.

This is a PR move.
Couldn't have said it better myself. I am a huge Google fan, but I think Google has scripted this, and it fits right into their game plan. Let the government think they are helping them. Let the people think they are fighting the man. When all the smoke and mirrors start to fade, turn on Skynet for world domination
 

DesktopDevin

Active Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2009
Messages
381
Reaction score
59
Location
Garner, NC
Current Phone Model
HTC One M8
With all due respect to the author Google isn't taking the government to task. Taking them to task would be fighting some of this in court. Especially the PRISIM system.

This is a PR move.
Agreed nothing but a PR Stunt, if they wanted to impress me they should have fought it before they were busted doing it.

This is like a kid getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar and blames it on their brother/sister saying they were telling him/her to get them the cookies.

But is anybody really actually surprised about this revelation? Did anybody actually think their data is actually safe from the corporate/government machine?

Yes it may have been safe from "unsavory individuals", but to actually trust the people that hold the keys.

Let me post this IM from the Zuck that has made its fair share of rounds around the web. It is the reason I will never ever have a facebook account. And the Zuck himself admitted that he made this statement about the users of the early version of facebook.

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard

Zuck: Just ask.

Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

[Redacted Friend's Name]: What? How'd you manage that one?

Zuck: People just submitted it.

Zuck: I don't know why.

Zuck: They "trust me"

Zuck: Dumb F*cks.


If you actually trust these people with your data, read the above IM again and let it sink in because this is how they truly feel about the users of their "product" which is you.
 
Last edited:

Dalvik_Cache

Super Moderator
Premium Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2013
Messages
924
Reaction score
123
Location
Central US
^This. Actually, my first thought was, "Gee, if I ran a company whose slogan was 'Don't be evil' but I actually didn't believe it, then what I'd do is cooperate with the government with one hand, and then tell them that I was planning to issue (totally meaningless) press statements with the other hand that appeared to neither condone nor cooperate with the government." In other words, keep the public happy while actually pleasing the people in power.

Without real action, it's 100% impossible to know if this statement is sincere. By all accounts, the government response will be to get lost, and google will end up looking like the good guy (who lost).

-Matt

DISCLAIMER: the older I get, the more quickly I buy into absurd conspiracy theories (except the "We didn't really land on the moon," and "9/11 was really the US govt." type stuff)!


Based on Googles traditional stance on SOPA and other legislative bills to regular the exchange of data I would say it's sincere.
 

kodiak799

Gold Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2010
Messages
6,146
Reaction score
827
Again, I'm not really sure what people expect. Google (and other companies) was under secret court order to release that data. Not much of a leg to stand on. And in case you haven't been paying attention recently, opposing the govt does not come without consequences.
 

mountainbikermark

Super Moderator
Staff member
Premium Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2010
Messages
7,564
Reaction score
4,035
Agreed nothing but a PR Stunt, if they wanted to impress me they should have fought it before they were busted doing it.

This is like a kid getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar and blames it on their brother/sister saying they were telling him/her to get them the cookies.

But is anybody really actually surprised about this revelation? Did anybody actually think their data is actually safe from the corporate/government machine?

Yes it may have been safe from "unsavory individuals", but to actually trust the people that hold the keys.

Let me post this IM from the Zuck that has made its fair share of rounds around the web. It is the reason I will never ever have a facebook account. And the Zuck himself admitted that he made this statement about the users of the early version of facebook.

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard

Zuck: Just ask.

Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

[Redacted Friend's Name]: What? How'd you manage that one?

Zuck: People just submitted it.

Zuck: I don't know why.

Zuck: They "trust me"

Zuck: Dumb F*cks.


If you actually trust these people with your data, read the above IM again and let it sink in because this is how they truly feel about the users of their "product" which is you.

Average intelligence of today's youth.
Girl has abusive former boy friend. Posts on Facebook she is going here or there. Is shocked when she gets there and ex is there stalking her.
Employee posts on Twitter the weather is nice so they're skipping work today. Employee is shocked next day to find out they've been terminated from their job for missing too many days without valid documentation to prove illnesses.
This actually happened in my city: Group of youth decide to confront young man and beat him up, they beat him to the ground, teen girl kicks him in the head and it ends killing him. They post video on Facebook. They all claim they know nothing when cops show up, parents are appalled that local news media has their names from their Facebook posts. They all currently await in jail with no bond on capital murder charges, murder by mob (aka federal hate crime) malicious murder( aka federal hate crime), drunk in public, and other charges.
Folks do rum dumb things like this every day then are amazed that someone actually knows that they did it. Yes I'm sure they'd be angry to find out our government is in essence spying on them if they bothered to read anything more in-depth than who did what on Dancing With The Stars. How dare they do such a thing is probably more accurate.

Support Our Troops!!!
<><
A Rezound phone was used for this Tapatalk post
 

swc2001

Active Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2012
Messages
287
Reaction score
68
@ Mandymakesapps
I do see what you're saying but have to disagree. Sopa & Pipa were two totally different things than Prism. First of all Sopa & Pipa had complete transparency in the public eye dealing with congress. These two bills would have radically changed the internet for users worldwide into a non free system. Prism was a top secret court order with a Gag addendum to all it was issued to. This forced companies to participate in an unprecedented warentless seizure of everyones data within these companies. They had No choice if they wanted to obey the Government. Prism was Unlawful under our 4th amendment. Google was able to fight Sopa & Pipa due to its widespread transparency. It was ineffectual to fight the mandated top secret court order called Prism. I also believe this is just a PR move by Google. Their hands were tied just like every one else's

Also to the OP the leaks name was not William Binney. it is Edward Snowden.
 

gadgetrants

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2010
Messages
1,286
Reaction score
197
Current Phone Model
Google Pixel
Also to the OP the leaks name was not William Binney. it is Edward Snowden.

Nice catch. The two have a lot in common.

Snowden (younger guy): Man behind NSA leaks says he did it to safeguard privacy, liberty - CNN.com

Binney (older guy): Edward Snowden's Whistleblower Binney - Business Insider

With a video interview released Sunday by The Guardian, we now know 29-year-old contractor Edward Snowden as the whistleblower behind leaks of secret NSA spying programs.

There's a big reason why many are quick to believe his claims of vast government surveillance — with the NSA intercepting millions of phone calls and emails, and having supposed access to tech companies — because we've actually heard it all before.

Many will debate over the coming days and weeks whether he's a hero or a traitor — or if he's possibly stretching the truth — but it's worth noting another, perhaps even more credible whistleblower that worked for the NSA.

His name is William Binney, a 32-year veteran of the secretive agency, and one of the best codebreakers in NSA history — who appeared in an Aug. 2012 video shot by Laura Poitras for The New York Times.

Binney detailed a top-secret surveillance program called "Stellar Wind" — the scope of which had never been public — which tracked electronic activities, including phone calls, emails, banking, travel records, and social media, and then mapped them to collect "all the attributes that any individual has" in every type of activity and build a profile based on the data.

-Matt
 
Top