back to article Report: Google's NSA dealings not as bad as you thought – THEY WERE WORSE

Google and other technology giants were working far more closely with the NSA government than originally thought, if a set of uncovered internal emails are to be believed. Al Jazeera has posted an email correspondence between NSA director General Keith Alexander and Google's Eric Schmidt and Sergey Brin discussing cooperation …

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Anonymous Coward

Chewin' Eric Schmidt's Chocolate

Notice it wasn't the US media reporting on leaked e-mails.

Again, the takeaway here is that Google has been a faithful servant to the spooks and only became "outraged" when this relationship was outed, with possibly rather serious blowback to the global market for Google cloud services, whose integrity was (rightly) questioned by non-US-based corporations.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Chewin' Eric Schmidt's Chocolate

"...whose integrity was [and still is] (rightly) questioned..."

Put you are true to the mark.

It wouldn't come as a big surprise if the government had a hand in Google's rise to dominance. They show they are willing to cooperate, the government helps them grow, thus their influence grows as well.

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Re: Chewin' Eric Schmidt's Chocolate

Exactly what form would such a "hand" take? How would the government have been steering people away from competing search engines and towards Google?

I'm sure there is a lot of unaired dirty business in the cooperation of major internet companies with the NSA that hasn't yet (and may never be) revealed. But it seems more likely that rather than help those who cooperate, the government would obstruct those who don't play ball.

There were rumors about the government withholding contracts from Qwest (now Centurylink) because they wouldn't let them freely tap their phone lines. That's the sort of thing I'd expect as much more likely than some imagined way of helping companies who cooperate. Since Google, Yahoo and Microsoft were all cooperating, what could the government do to help Google rise to dominance that wouldn't hurt Yahoo and Microsoft?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Chewin' Eric Schmidt's Chocolate

All the major tech firms like Microsoft, Apple et al were invited to tech conferences with the NSA to discuss the security of American tech from the scurge of foreign governments.

It was something (pre-PRISM) that you would expect big tech companies to be involved in. The NSA was touting itself as primarily concerned with the security of US networks and devices not the main threat to it.

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Roo
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Re: Chewin' Eric Schmidt's Chocolate

"Exactly what form would such a "hand" take? How would the government have been steering people away from competing search engines and towards Google?"

The pay back doesn't necessarily have to be about redirecting eyeballs to Google's pages... Google has *always* linked to a massive amount of copy-righted material, and plenty of sites (legit & non legit) have been shutdown and folks prosecuted for doing exactly the same thing. I imagine immunity from prosecution and ensuring that legislation doesn't hamper Google too much would be a very valuable for Google...

Also the Feds do have a track record of funding start ups to varying degrees (e.g. DARPA), so given the nature of their business & technology, it strikes me as quite likely that Google have had some funding at some stage in some form from the feds.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Chewin' Eric Schmidt's Chocolate

DougS: You start of asking what form such a hand could take, and then you list of a few forms such a hand could take. So well done. It doesn't have to be direct aid to Google in order to be beneficial to them (and thus a hand in the rise of them)

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Black Helicopters

Re: Chewin' Eric Schmidt's Chocolate

And let's not forget Google's war driving WLAN snooping. A quick call from the NSA to the FBI and Department of Justice and allies on Capital Hill goes a long way to quiet down any pesky federal investigations about privacy invasion. Especially if Google shares its data on vulnerable wireless endpoints and WLAN addresses with the NSA.

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How can this be?

But how can this possibly be?

I mean, we keep getting told that Google embodies their philosophy of "Do No Evil"...

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Unhappy

Fine Print

* for certain values of no-evil only.

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Re: How can this be?

If you listen to certain news outlets, NSA isn't evil... so it stands to reason, Google is not being evil.

Enough levity... if they really, really were getting info on how to mitigate outside attacks that could threaten the internet industry (and Google's income) early on, they got suckered into taking the king's shilling, so to speak. Once they did that, they have to do the king's bidding. I just have a hard time buying that Google would be that gullible, but stranger things have happened.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How can this be?

First, it's "don't be evil", not "do no evil". Get it right.

Second, it's entirely reasonable to collaborate together on how to secure yourself from outside threats. Do you assume that security conferences are about exchanging the private information of users?

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Big Brother

Daniel Brandt was correct

It's a pity that his site is no longer online. It used to have a map of connections between NSA staff and Google.

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FAIL

Re: Daniel Brandt was correct

Downvoting facts, eh? I can understand downvoting opinions but...

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Meh

Hang on

This was the time Google had announced the hacking attempts coming from the Chinese government, isn't it? I don't see what's surprising about American tech companies getting together with the US government to protect themselves from an outside threat. This is not news. I remember reading on The Reg itself that Sergey Brin was given a temporary clearance to attend a security briefing organized by the US government.

So the NSA got together with Google and other companies to defend US interests from hacking attempts. I fail to see what's nefarious about that. If you'll remember, this was a time where the most likely threat of hacking was China, not the NSA. In fact, this would explain the feeling of betrayal displayed by Google when it was announced that the NSA was spying on their internal fiber links…

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Re: Hang on

That's the point, isn't it? I doubt the NSA has shown their Other Face to anyone in those meetings. The risk of someone blowing a fuse over what the NSA was actually doing would have been too big. Snowden would not have been necessary.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hang on

" If you'll remember, this was a time where the most likely threat of hacking was China, not the NSA."

Was this not also also the time the NSA didn't even need to ask Google for data, they just went straight in and collected whatever they wanted?.

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Re: Hang on

"If you'll remember, this was a time where the most likely threat of hacking was China"

No.....this was a time when we were being TOLD - by the very organisation most likely to profit from the "look over there, look over there, don't look here" distraction - that the the most likely threat of hacking was China.

"getting together with the US government to protect themselves from an outside threat"

....Keep drinking the KoolAid.

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Cover-up and plausible denial

Google and other technology giants were working far more closely with the NSA government than originally thought

Far more closely than some people chose to believe - many others suspected involvement went far deeper than those corporations were prepared to admit.

I do not think it is any surprise corporations had relationships with the NSA or other agencies; in fact it would be a surprise if they did not. That is not what the real issue is; it is 'how' they cooperated with the NSA and agencies.

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Re: Chewin' Eric Schmidt's Chocolate

What is NSA all about? It's about suking upp all sort of information, and some of that is from corporations. And that can be given to corporations that hare in bead with NSA.

We hade here in sweden, alogations that swedish inteligens was giving corporate inteligens to corporations in sweden, for fawors in return.

You scrach my back and I scrach yours.

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Schmidt

"Ladies and gentlemen, uh, we've just lost the picture, but what we've seen speaks for itself. Your privacy has apparently been taken over -- 'conquered' if you will -- by a master race with deep surveillance technologies. It's difficult to tell from this vantage point whether they will monitor all men or merely enslave them. One thing is for certain: there is no stopping them; the NSA will soon be here.

"And I for one welcome our new surveillance overlords. I'd like to remind them that as a trusted executive with access to 3.3 billion email accounts, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in our underground data centers."

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What an interesting take on an article that almost every other tech blog has posted about in a completely different light - ie that Google were meeting with the NSA to secure their systems - rather than the other way around.

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Anonymous Coward

Come on, it's the reg - anything about google is put on a bad light, and even if not, the commentards jump on it like sharks smelling blood. Many seem to have the same hatred of google as many of us in IT for a long time have of the borg. Even if you use google services by choice; it is not pushed on you like ie. But you can't rationalize with people that accept without questioning microsoft forcing them to declare a valid phone number under penalty of cancelling their email (the infamous "temporarily blocked" hotmail), but start ranting when google suggests (it isn't forced) they do the same as a security mechanism for gmail.

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Anonymous Coward

Wow...

...There's an awful lot of Google fanbois on the Reg's forums. Hope you are all enjoying Google Supercookies and Server-Side Google-Analytics...

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Devil

In other news....

Google announced today that an unfortunate typo in their corporate communications has led to unreasonable expectations from the public. The well known corporate motto "Don't be evil" was in fact meant to say "Do it--be evil!".

As atonement for this misunderstanding, at lunchtime Wednesday Google will be sacrificing 37 virgins to the goat god Baal in quad of their Mountain View campus....

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Anonymous Coward

"Google and other technology giants were working far more closely with the NSA government than originally thought"

Sorry, having read the article, what is it EXACTLY that Google has done wrong here? Apart from nudge, nudge, hey, you know, they met with the NSA, and nudge nudge, we all know what that means, eh, eh, eh?

I would have been utterly fucking flabergasted to find out that the NSA hasn't spoken to companies the size of Google in some capacity or other, over the last few decades.

Why does that surprise anyone? NSA invites massive US tech company to a meeting. What's the likely response - sorry, bit busy this week?

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Indeed, one of NSA's two primary missions is to promote information assurance within the US, as its other is to engage in signals intelligence collection and dissemination, including undermining or subverting information assurance activities of most or all other nations. They do not differ in this respect from signals intelligence agencies in other countries.

Clearly, there is some tension between the two missions, especially in the area of software and hardware vulnerabilities and those are resolved in some fashion by agency management, probably not always for the best. The article (and the Aljazeera source) report, with a quite negative slant, that one way involves coordinating and assisting development of commercial IA programs. While it may be justified to criticize NSA if it can be shown to have misguided the companies, neither article makes such a claim. Based on the email messages Aljazeera obtained by FOIA request and published, it is hard to justify attacking Google or others for participating in the briefing or for cooperating with each other and NSA to improve security.

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