Google’s Larry Page on government eavesdropping: ‘We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday’

Google CEO Larry Page and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond have posted the following open letter on Google’s Official Blog:

Dear Google users—

You may be aware of press reports alleging that Internet companies have joined a secret U.S. government program called PRISM to give the National Security Agency direct access to our servers. As Google’s CEO and Chief Legal Officer, we wanted you to have the facts.

First, we have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government—or any other government—direct access to our servers. Indeed, the U.S. government does not have direct access or a “back door” to the information stored in our data centers. We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday.

Second, we provide user data to governments only in accordance with the law. Our legal team reviews each and every request, and frequently pushes back when requests are overly broad or don’t follow the correct process. Press reports that suggest that Google is providing open-ended access to our users’ data are false, period. Until this week’s reports, we had never heard of the broad type of order that Verizon received—an order that appears to have required them to hand over millions of users’ call records. We were very surprised to learn that such broad orders exist. Any suggestion that Google is disclosing information about our users’ Internet activity on such a scale is completely false.

Finally, this episode confirms what we have long believed—there needs to be a more transparent approach. Google has worked hard, within the confines of the current laws, to be open about the data requests we receive. We post this information on our Transparency Report whenever possible. We were the first company to do this. And, of course, we understand that the U.S. and other governments need to take action to protect their citizens’ safety—including sometimes by using surveillance. But the level of secrecy around the current legal procedures undermines the freedoms we all cherish.

Posted by Larry Page, CEO and David Drummond, Chief Legal Officer

Source: Google’s Official Blog

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Seecrypt app lets iPhone, Android users keep voice calls, text messages away from carriers, government eyes and ears – June 7, 2013
Obama administration defends PRISM data-collection as legal anti-terrorism tool – June 7, 2013
Facebook, Google, Yahoo join Apple in sort-of denying PRISM involvement – June 7, 2013
Report: Intelligence program gives U.S. government direct access to customer data on Apple servers; Apple denies – June 6, 2013

26 Comments

    1. Probably because it is not much of a scandal. Both liberal and conservative groups were being investigated (despite the one-sided complaints) by one field office, and it seems like quite a few of those groups *should* be investigated. (When the number one expenditure is to support a candidate for office, that sure sounds like a political expense.)

      1. Agree on IRS scandal. The groups that were denied tax exemption were liberal, not conservative (even though Koch brothers blatantly use many of organizations for political purposes). Other scandals are real, but not this other.

  1. Larry, you might not have heard of PRISM, but you’ve surely heard of SCHMIDT, right? You know the one who was sitting silently in all of Apple’s board meetings and quietly eavesdropping on the plans Steve Jobs made for the iPhone and copied it back to Mountain Ciew. Yes, that one. The SCHMIDT.

    1. Dear Google users,
      We will be suing the US government for using Google patents without proper compensation. The program being reported is obviously a copy of the eavesdropping program that Google is already running.

  2. > Indeed, the U.S. government does not have direct access or a “back door” to the information stored in our data centers.

    No, only our paying advertising customers have such access to your user data.

    (Removed from first draft…)

  3. B.S.
    First Paragraph: We did not join: Impressment.
    direct access to our servers: Round about way. They are not on site. Remote access.
    Totally misleading.
    Second Paragraph: It’s a secret law and we give them anything they want.
    “Until this week’s reports, we had never heard of the broad type of order that Verizon received” Like Verizon was supposed to tell you about it??
    ” on such a scale ” OUR scale is DIFFERENT.
    Third Paragraph: Mostly on the up and up.
    “whenever possible” except for every time we can’t! (and that’s so many it’s not funny) 😎

  4. Google, Microsoft, Apple etc. can’t acknowledge that this is going on. Big brother won’t let them. They can all claim that they don’t know what Prism is because that’s simply a codename for the process. But they all understand that the government has access to everything they have. Anytime they want it. They just didn’t know it was called Prism. So it sounds good for all of them to say they have never heard of Prism.

  5. of course he wouldn’t have heard of a program called prism, that was in internal nsa-only name for the project. very careful way of saying something true that others will misinterpret as something else.

  6. So… Is everyone covering their ass, knowing the can be sued into oblivion by We The People for traitorous, unconstitutional surveillance of US citizens on US soil without probably cause?

    I want all the details of this catastrophic mess of historical proportions before laying out final judgement. The public is being kept in as much ignorance as possible, pointing out the bad attitude of our own government toward We The People. 👿

    1. You want the government to disclose decisions and acts it has undertaken? Especially acts that have no probable cause? Then you need a presidential candidate who will promise that full transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of his presidency. Wow, I just experienced déjà vu when I wrote that.

      1. I don’t want a new President. I want a new government that serves We The People, not our current wealthy, corporate overlords. The two party system in the USA is a FAILure, neither of who deserve anyone’s support.

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