updated 09:14 am EDT, Tue May 6, 2014
Emails obtained show correspondence between NSA, Brin, Schmidt
A report has surfaced, potentially belying Google's claims of little if any contact with the US National Security Agency (NSA). Emails from June 2012 obtained by the Al-Jazeera news network purport that Google was frequently in contact with then-director of the NSA, General Keith Alexander.
If legitimate, the emails date from before NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations about wide-reaching NSA surveillance programs. In January of 2012, Google co-founder Sergey Brin responded to an email from General Alexander, then head of the NSA, after attending the "Enduring Security Framework" conference regarding securing the BIOS of enterprise platforms.
In June, Google CEO Eric Schmidt responded to General Alexander (improperly referred to as "General Keith"), saying that he would be unable to attend a follow-up conference "in a secure facility in proximity to the San Jose CA airport" in California.
Following the Snowden revelations about the NSA surveillance programs, Google and other technology companies denied any relationship with the NSA. Larry Page wrote in a blog post right after the reveal that "we have not joined any program that would give the US government -- or any other government -- direct access to our servers. Indeed, the US government does not have direct access or a 'back door' to the information stored in our data centers" and "press reports that suggest that Google is providing open-ended access to our users' data are false, period."
A Google spokesperson told Al-Jazeera that the company works "really hard to protect our users from cyber attacks, and we always talk to experts -- including in the US government -- so we stay ahead of the game. It's why [Brin] attended this NSA conference."
Electronista also spoke with a Google spokesperson, who told us that "[Brin's] interface with the General was purely social. The NSA conference that he attended had nothing to do with surveillance programs. We maintain that we had no role in the possibly-illegal NSA surveillance effort."