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Google denies giving NSA "direct access" to user data

Original post made on Jun 13, 2013

National Security Agency documents leaked to the press say Mountain View's Google has been cooperating with the US government to spy on citizens on an unprecedented scale, allowing direct access to the company's servers. Google executives deny that to be the case.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, June 13, 2013, 9:11 AM

Comments (23)

Posted by 3, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 13, 2013 at 9:46 am

This is very bad for business. We have known this for years but many people in broader America have not. They are going to view Facebook in particular with grave suspicion.

I think Facebook, Google and Yahoo should go to Washington and say that they will relocate overseas if the NSA does not change their policy.

Posted by JerryL, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 13, 2013 at 12:02 pm

People are idiots if they posted any significant personal information
on any of these social media sites. If they move overseas folks will and should stop using them completely.

I thought it interesting to see the very carefully worded denial
"We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday."
That is not the same as saying we haven't been providing the information. Maybe they were calling it "trapazoid" or "square" or
whatever. So what?

Every telephone central office for decades has had provisions to facilitate wiretapping. The rise of the internet was very worrisome to our security and intelligence agencies until Google and Facebook came along to handle the technological challenges for them.

It is unreasonable, in this day and age, to act with an expectation of privacy.

Posted by series of tubes, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 13, 2013 at 1:24 pm

"Every telephone central office for decades has had provisions to facilitate wiretapping."

So quaint a concept!

Nah, the NSA does it all thru one place, just around the corner from here: the ATT office on Folsom, up in The City.

Room 641, if memory serves. They funnel the internet from there.

Yes, THE internet.

The whole damn thing. Everything. Your bank records. Your love notes. Your kids entire communication life (now, THAT'S scary!) Your online 'viewing' choices (ya know, the late night ones.) Your wife's amazon order for the three Shade books.

The whole intertubes.

Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 13, 2013 at 3:33 pm

This is so complicated that I have no idea where to start trying to peel back the layers of the Onion. We have been spying on each other since the first man discovered fire, and picked up a branch to use as a club. It would be hard to talk about any war that was not won, or lost, because of "spying". Recently I was watching some BBC shows on Youtube about British history, and one spent a lot of time talking about the spies in Queen Elizabeth's reign in the late 1500s. Seems Elizabeth (R) didn't take too criticism kindly.

There were a tremendous number of German spies, and saboteurs, active on East Coast during WWI. The US was so "neutral" that it actually allowed the Germans to use the US undersea telegraph cables until the US was confronted with the Zimmerman letter/telegram, and then entered the war after the Lusitania was sunk. The damage the Germans did to American/British Maritime assets, and the ammunition dump at Black Tom Island (NJ), was one of the reasons that Roosevelt felt compelled to incarcerate the Germans, Italians and Japanese after we entered WWII.

Mail to the US, originating from GIs abroad, was read, and censored, by Military Censors. No one seemed to complain, but I suspect no one was particularly happy about it. The Brits ultimately broke the Germans' two code sets, reading virtually everything that the Germans said to each other. The Germans did the same. At one point, the Germans were listening in on Winston Churchill's telephone conversations with Roosevelt—because they were transmitted by wireless, and the Germans found a spot on the other side of the English Channel to set up a recording station.

The US has been running Project Echelon for some time now:

Web Link

AT&T is supposed to have installed an "Optical Splitter" in its backbone fiber optic cables, so that all of the traffic on those cables can be diverted to a site for surveillance purposes:

Web Link

And then, back in the early Bush (W.) days, there was: TIA—Total Information Awareness:

Web Link

Perhaps the name "John Poindexter" might ring a bell with some of you?

Although TIA was supposed to have been shut down, it's hard to believe than any Government surveillance project is ever really terminated—when it can be renamed, re-located, its mission enlarged and its budget tripled.

So far, most of out Silicon Valley Congressional Reps seem to have been silent about this issue. It might be interesting to see if they have been briefed, and endorse all of this domestic surveillance?

Posted by annie, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 13, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Dont give your kids smart phones. I think a lot of kids will sue their parents for pushing this technology and associated privacy and future destroyer onto them when they too young to say no, or to have a mature executive function!
Dont use them. Get a flip phone.
Dont use silly facebook, time cync, sexting, cyberbullying, ruiner of childrens privacy.
Dont bank online. Go in person.
Blog under fake names. Have email addresses which are unrelated to your own name.
Erase cookies.
Dont use gmail.

Posted by series of tubes, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 13, 2013 at 4:12 pm

"AT&T is supposed to have installed an "Optical Splitter" in its backbone fiber optic cables"

The 'splitter' is on Folsom, in room 641.

" We have been spying on each other since the first man discovered fire" We've had slavery around since back then; doesn't make it right.

Posted by earth member, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 13, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Watching this thing closely, been in high tech since 1970, following the FBI/NSA closely since the 1960's.

My opinion is that the GOOGLE/FACEBOOK were all funded out of my own Stanford. Now we have Palantir & Narus building SW & HW.

There are 2 prisms ( the system ), one bought by NSA, the other bought by DHS, its a turf war, the new DHS under Obama wants to report all data direct to Obama, the Pentagon DOD ( DARPA google tcp-ip ... ) they want to keep the data under their thumb same-same since j-edgar-hoover.

Obama with his personal army (DHS/TSA) and Prism(Palantir/Narus) is now more powerful than any dictator in history.

Me thinks a lot of old time 'constitutionalists' are not setting well with Obama's new 'standing army'.

The spying is all sold by google, facebook, ... et-al Its how they make their money, the US government isnn't even the biggest customer for the spy data.

The NSA has been left out of the game, ... its a war folks.

Posted by earth person, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 13, 2013 at 4:34 pm

One last comment I agree that this is the end for 'free internet software', Silicon Valley should have died post Y2K like high-tech did everywhere else, but it was kept alive to build 'TIA'.

The fraud going on from the 'valley' is mind boggling, all the high tech CEO's saying "we didn't know", THE HIGH TECH CEO's of S-VALLEY built the SPY system folks and its under their thumb.

Ok, my point. Nobody now is going to use google, facebook, msn, twitter, yahoo, ... now finally 'free software' is DEAD, because ALL free software is 'trojan horse ware', and now everybody knows it.

My only advice is that if your holding any of these company's sell, cuz its going down and not coming back.

The entire WORLD will now QUIT using US high tech internet free software. The GREED that is SValley has killed their money-tree its dead.

This time its NOT coming back.

Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 13, 2013 at 5:11 pm

> We've had slavery around since back then;
> doesn't make it right.

These are not comparable notions. I gave a number of examples when domestic spying was practiced, and certainly with good reason. I'll bet, if asked, that all of the sailors where were killed at Pearl Harbor wished that Roosevelt, and his Admirals, had done more domestic spying in the days leading up to Dec. 7th, 1941.

Posted by Pearl, a resident of Atherton
on Jun 13, 2013 at 6:16 pm

how would "more domestic spying" have prevented Pearl?

Posted by barron parker too, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 13, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Reading the comments, it appears that this story is like a roschach test -- people read it with their own weird filters. It also seems to bring out the tin-hat nuts who are ABSOLUTELY SURE that the government, with the help of space aliens, presumably, is beaming radio waves at them to suck out their thoughts and control their minds, and has been doing this for -- oh -- say, 15 years.

Unfortunately, even Silicon Valley seems to be full of nutty conspiracy theorists.

Earth to Faraday-cage inhabitants -- read the Google statement. Whatever PRISM is, it does not give the government access to any of Google's servers. To get personal data from Google, the government must first obtain a warrant, signed by a judge. Every request is reviewed by a lawyer for appropriateness (e.g., it must not be overly broad). Nothing happens automatically.

Web Link

Web Link

Posted by Lennox Jarvis, a resident of Southgate
on Jun 13, 2013 at 7:01 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 13, 2013 at 7:29 pm

> how would "more domestic spying" have prevented Pearl?

Japanese spies photographed the Island/military installations before the attack. Domestic spying could have prevented those photographs from reaching Tokyo.

The underlying issue is whether, or not, Roosevelt wanted the Japanese to attack American Military assets somewhere in the Pacific in order to get the US into the War. Roosevelt had ordered the Atlantic Fleet to fire on German warships, in order to precipitate a conflict. The Germans would not take the bait. As it was inevitable that the US and Japan would be at war--doing nothing to prevent an attack on Pearl, or the Phillipines, was another of Roosevelt's options to get the US into the war. Domestic spying on Japanese diplomates, and citizens, was at odds with Roosevelt's plans, most likely.

There were, by the war, about 300 Japanese spies operating in the US when the war started.

Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 13, 2013 at 7:33 pm

> read the Google statement.

While I also doubht that the NSA has "direct access" to Google's servers--Google did deny collecting personal WiFi data (Street View project).. until it admitted that it did.

Corporations make all sorts of statements. Who knows whether Google is telling the truth, or not?

Posted by Annie, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 13, 2013 at 9:29 pm


SILICON VALLEY SHOULD MOVE TO CANADA, Vancouver will do. Canada does not have the same monitoring.

Plus its colder which is good for the servers, and start ups dont have to worry about health care because its free, and their tax is no higher.

Posted by who cares, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 13, 2013 at 9:50 pm

The almighty dollar rules again. Think Google, Aol, FaceBook, Verizon, etc. are giving the info for free. The shame of it is that the President on down try to justify this action. The American public follows along without asking intelligent questions. The President has been accused of and condoned spying on U.S. citizens using scare tactics, allowing and using the IRS to essentially create a hate list of conservative groups applying for taxation exemption, ignoring and violating 4th Amendment rights for journalists, etc. The really sad part of this story is those posting their acceptance of the obvious violation of constitutional rights. Sounds like the good old Nixon years! The only difference is that he is now backed by companies such as Google, FaceBook, Aol, Verizon, etc. who only care about their profits. What a pity ! Who knew the sellout would be so easy.

Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:13 am

Every day brings new revelations. It seemed very likely to me that sooner-or-later companies that were playing "footsy" with the Intelligence Services would become more "involved"—even possibly wanting something in return, as this Bloomberg article reports:

Web Link

Thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies are working closely with U.S. national security agencies, providing sensitive information and in return receiving benefits that include access to classified intelligence, four people familiar with the process said.

Most of the arrangements are so sensitive that only a handful of people in a company know of them, and they are sometimes brokered directly between chief executive officers and the heads of the U.S.'s major spy agencies, the people familiar with those programs said.

We will probably never know the breadth, and depth, of these global surveillance networks—since Canada, Russia, Britain and China are doubtless playing at this game also.

Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 14, 2013 at 8:34 am

Bloomberg News has itself been recently accused of spying on its corporate customers--but this time, for the old fashioned reason of "self interest":

Web Link

In April, Goldman Sachs complained that a reporter had monitored an executive's activities on the Bloomberg machine, the ubiquitous financial terminal that contains a mind-boggling array of information about economies, companies, markets and people, including Bloomberg's own customers. The revelation prompted inquiries from more than 20 customers, including Bank of America, the Federal Reserve, the Treasury Department and the European Central Bank. Daniel L. Doctoroff, chief executive of Bloomberg, apologized, calling the reporting practice a "mistake."

Not certain what Bloomberg's position on government spying is--as it is currently trying to dig itself out of its own little "spying" hole.

Posted by hank, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 14, 2013 at 3:18 pm

What is really mindboggling to me is that parents and school principals around here frog march their minors into using Facebook. They are forcing young people who do not yet have a mature executive function, to spend their lives in the public eye, forgoe their futures, forgo their right to express a politically deviant opinion etc etc, at an age before they are old enough.

Parents do it because they are so overpressured succeeding they want to opt out of parenting so they just give the kids a phone. The kid goes online 24/7, cheats, is addicted to violent games, cyberbullies, snarky remarks, stops reading books, cannot express themselves in greater than 150 characters...

and if you dare to say that you think kids should not have smart phones you are called a backward luddite - when it is in fact a forward thinking clarity, and a proper reading of George Orwell instead.

Posted by too true, a resident of Southgate
on Jun 14, 2013 at 3:35 pm

"The kid goes online 24/7, cheats, is addicted to violent games, cyberbullies, snarky remarks, stops reading books, cannot express themselves in greater than 150 characters"

Noted, your thought was executed (in whatever fashion) in less than 150 characters.

To the other poster about Japanese spies before Pearl Harbor - "Domestic spying could have prevented those photographs from reaching Tokyo." What a crock. How would increased domestic spying have prevented those spies from passing on photographs back in that day and age? Silly notion.

Posted by s, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 14, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Foreign ownership in T-Mobile US and Verizon Wireless has helped shield the two mobile operators from the controversial data surveillance programme run by the US National Security Agency

Posted by Hey Sergei, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 17, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Uh, Google, there is, um, lots of evidence to the contrary, so, uh, may as well fess up.

Posted by Serge & Achmed, a resident of another community
on Jun 17, 2013 at 12:40 pm


Can't help but think of Eddie in Bev Hills Cop

Serge: Donny, run and tell Miss Summers that, uh, Mister Achmed Foley is here to see her...
Axel Foley: No, *Axel* Foley. Axel.
Serge: Achnell...? Achwell...
Axel Foley: *Axel*.
Serge: ...Foley is here to see her, he's an old acquaintance.

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