Google and the NSA: Big Brother Meets Big Brother

Privacy advocates are atremble

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Google and the National Security Agency are teaming up to investigate the cyber attacks that prompted Google's rift with China. Already, privacy advocates are sounding alarm bells, citing the NSA's history of warrantless wiretapping program and collecting telephone records. What happens when corporate Big Brother meets government Big Brother? If we're lucky, they cancel each other out. Tech bloggers, meanwhile, are disputing the danger of this new collaboration.

  • There's a Precedent for This, says Ian Paul at PC World, with a hint of reassurance:
In 2007, the NSA helped Microsoft develop parts of the Vista operating system to meet U.S. Department of Defense requirements for security and interoperability with other government software.

In 2009, the NSA worked with over 30 other cyber security organizations and companies including Symantec and Microsoft to write a report outlining the twenty-five most dangerous programming errors developers often make. The list was designed to help software makers avoid these security holes before bringing their products to market.
  • This Is Outrageous! exclaims MrC at Paddywop: "Why is it any less outrageous for American spy agencies to have access to Google files than it is for Chinese spy agencies to try to examine them to search for dissidents."
  • Unsettling, but Not the End of the World, writes Andy Beal at Marketing Pilgrim: "While it's unlikely that Google's going to hand over any user information, I still don't like how close-and how quickly-Google is snuggling up with perhaps the scariest of all government agencies. Don't get me wrong, Google is of the utmost importance to the USA. We can all agree on that, right? But, I still have an uneasy feeling about it working with the NSA. Especially when it's a relationship that even Google doesn't want to confirm publicly!"
  • Could Affect Google's Business, writes Sam Diaz at ZDNet: "If I were a business considering making a move to Google's cloud-based applications to manage my critical data, I might be forced to think twice if I knew Google was relying on the government for advice on how to keep it safe - regardless of whether or not the company was actually sharing the data with the feds."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.