Google has already inserted some U.S. NSA code into Android

“Tech giants listed as part of the National Security Agency’s Prism spying program have gone to some lengths to convince the world they aren’t in bed with the U.S. government,” Mark Milian reports for Businessweek. “Google has filed a request with the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court asking permission to disclose more information about the government’s data requests.”

“So there’s a certain irony that NSA programmers are now refining code that Google has approved for the company’s mobile operating system, Android,” Milian reports. “Google spokeswoman Gina Scigliano confirms that the company has already inserted some of the NSA’s programming in Android OS.”

MacDailyNews Take: Why does Google, supposedly staffed by some of the world’s preeminent genius PhDs, need U.S. government workers to write “security” code for their OS?

“Through its open-source Android project, Google has agreed to incorporate code, first developed by the agency in 2011, into future versions of its mobile operating system, which according to market researcher IDC runs on three-quarters of the smartphones shipped globally in the first quarter,” Milian reports. “NSA officials say their code, known as Security Enhancements for Android, isolates apps to prevent hackers and marketers from gaining access to personal or corporate data stored on a device. Eventually all new phones, tablets, televisions, cars, and other devices that rely on Android will include NSA code, agency spokeswoman Vanee’ Vines said in an e-mailed statement. NSA researcher Stephen Smalley, who works on the program, says, ‘Our goal is to raise the bar in the security of commodity mobile devices.'”

MacDailyNews Take: “Open.”

“In May the Pentagon approved the use of smartphones and tablets that run Samsung’s mobile enterprise software, Knox, which also includes NSA programming, the company wrote in a June white paper. Sony, HTC, and Samsung declined to comment,” Milian reports. “‘Apple does not accept source code from any government agencies for any of our operating systems or other products,’ says Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for the company.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: By SteveJack

As the post-PC world continues to diminish the use of crappy Windows PCs, which run a so-called operating system from Microsoft, a company that seemingly couldn’t wait to jump into bed with the NSA for whatever benefits that would offer, the conspiracy-minded could easily see why malware-prone Android phones and tablets are being pushed so hard to the ignorati worldwide through unending “Buy One, Get X Free” promotions, myriad slanted reviews that falsely equate Android devices with Apple products, and why lawsuits over blatant patent infringement are stalled in U.S. and other U.S.-allied nations’ courts for many years, while (and so that) Android takes hold as the world’s dominant OS in terms of unit share; get it in as many hands as possible.

But, of course, that would be crazy talk.

SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, former web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Peter G.” for the heads up.]

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44 Comments

  1. the NSA is larger than the CIA and here is how wikipedia describes it:

    “NSA is primarily tasked with collecting and analyzing information and data of foreign intelligence and counterintelligence value, including through clandestine means.[5] ”

    Anybody feel comfortable that an agency “tasked with collecting and analyzing information” is writing code for your phone?
    Android is expanding like bacteria in china, how does the Chinese govt. now feel with NSA code phones all over China?

    Yesterday MDN linked an article about how Google is special because it is ‘science based’ and filled with genius scientist coders etc. Today we read how these place filled with genius coders need NSA to write code for them. And yet with these so called ‘Security Enhancements’ Android has 90+ of the mobile malware out there (so the phones aren’t that ‘secure’ after all, so what exactly is NSA doing… ? )

  2. It’s an amazing business strategy. Develop an open-source OS, put no work into security, give the OS away for free so that the market is permeated by these cheap devices, then sit back and let the rest of the world enhance the security by developing the code for it. It is open source after all. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that this would happen. I can see the headlines now. Android devices more secure than Apple after 5 years of work by the NSA on the open source project. Only problem with this, from a consumer standpoint is that the NSA’s motto (and Google’s too) is “All your personal data are belong to us.”.

    1. So, U.S. taxpayers of today and the future are paying for Android’s “security.” Apple is paying to have the Federal Government “enhance” Android.

      Maybe the NSA can take over patches for Windows XP, after Microsoft abandons it next year. Then, Microsoft can pay to have customers NOT upgrade to Windows 8, and the NSA can “protect” 30+ percent of all personal computer users.

  3. Maybe we should all start to add signatures to our email messages that triger the software filter at NSA and that way force them to archive and have an analist read every single email.
    That is, use the system against them.
    A list of words that refer to questionable activities should do it…
    When everyone on the planet and every email is suspect, that should make it “somewhat” dificult for them to filter.

  4. My first thoughts were if the gov got google to do it it’s probably in iOS as well, second thoughts were maybe this is why Google gets away with a slap on the wrist for everything evil it does and apple seems to get bent over

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