By now most people have heard of PRISM, the NSA's program to collect, analyze and leverage telephony and Internet data.
Google, more than any other company, is at the very heart of Internet culture and technology. Hundreds of millions of people leverage Google services everyday to manage their personal and professional lives. There have been a lot of interesting headlines and news reports - and there are still many open questions.
However, we do know several important points worth mentioning.
- The U.S. government does not have direct access to Google servers, datacenters or networks. Google was the first tech giant to make a statement after the PRISM news story hit the press. You can find Larry Page's comments here. Google's Chief Legal Officer, David Drummond, elaborates further:
We cannot say this more clearly—the government does not have access to Google servers—not directly, or via a back door, or a so-called drop box. Nor have we received blanket orders of the kind being discussed in the media. It is quite wrong to insinuate otherwise. 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. And we have taken the lead in being as transparent as possible about government requests for user information.
- Since 2009 Google has published their Transparency Report. The report discloses information about traffic to Google services, removal requests from copyright owners or governments, the number of user data requests Google receives from government agencies and courts. To foster more transparency and avoid confusion caused by these types of news stories, Google has sent a request to the U.S. Attorney General and the FBI asking they be allowed to share more information about the requests they receive from the government.
- The authority on these issues is the Electronic Frontier Foundation, EFF.org. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a non-profit organization that works to protect privacy and digital civil liberties. The EFF is an organization Umzuzu has supported financially since our founding; and if you like what they're doing, we encourage you to do the same. Each year the EFF publishes their "Who Has Your Back?" report covering online service providers' (like Google) privacy and transparency practices regarding government access to user data. You can find the 2013 "Who Has Your Back?" report here. This report allows you to compare Google to other service providers as well as gain a better understanding of the issues at the heart of this debate.
Like many of our clients and partners we run our entire organization on the Cloud. Besides Google, we also depend on services like Salesforce.com, Amazon Web Services, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter and many others. As IT and Operations professionals we know the Cloud offers the most secure and redundant platform for our mission critical data and applications. If you have any questions or comments, please just let us know.