Emails Reveal Google’s Close Working Relationship With NSA

NSA coordinated meetings with Google and other tech titans on mobile security

Emails between National Security Agency (NSA) director General Keith Alexander and Google executives Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt have been uncovered, apparently showing a working relationship between the two organisations.

Google has maintained it does not collaborate with US snoops, and does not share customer data, following leaks from Edward Snowden that indicated the tech giant was supplying information from its servers to the NSA.

But freedom of information requests from Al Jazeera discovered emails dating from 2012 organising briefings on mobile security threats, involving the NSA, Google and other tech firms.

Google Street View - Shutterstock - 1000 WordsNSA emails to Google

“A group (primarily Google, Apple and Microsoft) recently came to agreement on a set of core security principles,” one email from the NSA director read.

“When we reach this point in our projects we schedule a classified briefing for the CEOs of key companies to provide them a brief on the specific threats we believe can be mitigated and to seek their commitment for their organization to move ahead … Google’s participation in refinement, engineering and deployment of the solutions will be essential.”

The meetings formed part of a wider operation called the Enduring Security Framework, which also involved Intel, AMD, HP and Dell.

Vint Cerf, one of the founders of the Internet and Google’s chief Internet evangelist, was said to have taken part in some of the meetings.

Google responded to the report, saying it always sought to discuss threats with experts, including the US government, so users were better protected. It has been lobbying the US over surveillance laws it says have worrying implications for people’s privacy.

Privacy advocates have voiced concerns around the NSA’s dual persona: on the one hand working with companies to fix vulnerabilities, on the other allegedly hacking into those same business’ systems.

Nate Cardozo, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Al Jazeera the NSA “has no business helping Google secure its facilities from the Chinese and at the same time hacking in through the backdoors and tapping the fibre connections between Google base centres”.

“The fact that it’s the same agency doing both of those things is in obvious contradiction and ridiculous.”

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