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Judge Says You Can't Know If Google Spies For NSA 197

Posted by timothy
from the all-fibers-lead-to-maryland dept.
witherstaff writes "A federal judge has ordered that whether Google is spying for the National Security Agency or not, you have no right to know. EPIC, which brought the lawsuit, says the NSA can neither confirm nor deny any relationship with Google. EPIC is worried the 'NSA is developing technical standards that would enable greater surveillance of Internet users.'"
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Judge Says You Can't Know If Google Spies For NSA

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  • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @06:48AM (#36784358)

    After all, we're the good guys. We're just doing it to keep you safe from the red threat. Erh, the terrorists.

    Could someone FINALLY update my teleprompter, please?

    • and your sigfile talks about russia, too.

      are we at the 'race to the bottom'?

      seems kind of depressing.

      • seems kind of depressing.

        That's OK. Our government-subsidized pharmaceutical industry can produce the perfect antidepressant for you simply based on your Google search terms. It will all be better soon. If you don't believe us, just Google it. I'm sure we'll be able to provide the search results you want ;-)

      • The race is over. We won!
        • Re:But don't worry (Score:5, Insightful)

          by memyselfandeye (1849868) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @09:48AM (#36785380)

          The race is over. We won!

          When I was a teenager, after the wall fell down, a Russian scientist looking to hawk his invention moved in with my family. He was great, and taught me a lot, especially how to drink vodka. But one thing he said will always stick with me - "America and Russia always competed to see who was first. America built first nuclear submarine. Russia build first space rocket. America built first moon rocket. Eventually we had nothing to compete for, so we raced to see who spend money fastest. Russia won!"

      • Re:But don't worry (Score:4, Insightful)

        by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Saturday July 16, 2011 @02:12PM (#36787426) Journal

        The sad irony is we won the cold war only to become the enemy by taking the absolute worst parts of their system!

        Now we have socialism, only unlike what the republicans want you to think it doesn't have shit to do with giving the poor anything. Instead it is socialism for the rich, where they can gamble like the market is Las Vegas and if they win? Massive profits they then won't pay taxes on by using tricks like the double dutch which is favored by Google btw, and if they lose? Well then they are "too big to fail" and We, the people get left holding holding the bag.

        Just as the Russians had we too have a small group of party elite, that through bribery, graft, and corruption shall always come out ahead no matter what happens to the country. Also like the Russians the will of the people is completely ignored, the military sucks down ever larger chunks of our GDP, and they can take you from the street and label you "an enemy of the people" and throw you down a hole and then forget about the hole or even have you executed without trial [salon.com].

        That is why I truly believe that just like the Soviet system we are destined for our own little revolution, perhaps in the form of our very own Arab spring. it is obvious voting now might as well consist of a ballot with two slots "Check here to vote for graft and corruption" and "Let the guys in DC know how you feel...vote for graft and corruption!".

        And no matter what the people say, be it an end to the two wars (now three wars! Yay for the MIC! Extra hookers and blow this Xmas!), the securing of our borders and the tossing of those that entered illegally, the protection of medicare/caid and aid to the poor, legalization of pot, stopping of spying and abuses on Americans, increased taxes and the ends of loopholes for the top 5%, no matter what the people time and time and time again say they want they are repeatedly ignored by both parties for the desires of their cronies and those that can offer them bribes.

        When it came to the cold war history will most likely record America won the battle but lost the war, becoming as big of a corrupt cabal of insiders as the old USSR before finally collapsing under the weight of all the graft and desire of those at the top to ever enrich themselves at the cost of the people.

  • Confirmed (Score:5, Informative)

    by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Saturday July 16, 2011 @06:51AM (#36784362) Journal

    This is Legal Speak for Confirmed.

    Thread Over.

  • Misleading (Score:5, Informative)

    by camperdave (969942) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @06:54AM (#36784376) Journal

    The National Security Agency does not have to disclose its relationship with Google amid press reports that the two partnered up after hackers in China launched a cyber attack on the U.S. government, a federal judge in Washington ruled.

    It's not that you don't have a right to know. Its that the NSA is under no obligation to tell you. There's a big difference.

    • by Grygus (1143095)

      The National Security Agency does not have to disclose its relationship with Google amid press reports that the two partnered up after hackers in China launched a cyber attack on the U.S. government, a federal judge in Washington ruled.

      It's not that you don't have a right to know. Its that the NSA is under no obligation to tell you. There's a big difference.

      I'll admit that I just woke up, but the distinction seems academic... I don't see any practical difference at all.

      • by zAPPzAPP (1207370)

        The difference comes into play when obtaining this information from a different source (a leak, Google, own investigations...) and then redistributing it.
        With one definition, this would get you into trouble (depending on your person, things like espionage, treason might get thrown at you), with the other one, you are fine.

        This seems to be a case of the latter one.

    • It's not that you don't have a right to live. It's that some TLA is under no obligation to let you.

      Soon to come to a theater near you.

    • But since their activities are secret who knows, maybe some people have been offed for exercising their "right to know" that.

    • Re:Misleading (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bonch (38532) * on Saturday July 16, 2011 @12:12PM (#36786466)

      It's not that you don't have a right to know. Its that the NSA is under no obligation to tell you. There's a big difference.

      You can't find out if they won't tell you. There is no difference.

      You're buying right into what they're doing. They're skirting around the issue of right to public knowledge by simply not saying anything. "Oh, it's not that you don't have a right to know. We just don't have to tell you when you ask. Therefore, we're not violating your right to know."

      That's complete bullshit.

    • by ISoldat53 (977164)
      We don't impeach enough judges.
  • They are spying for the NSA for certain, then. Why else would they not be allowed to say? The US government needs to take a course in being opaque.
    • by erroneus (253617)

      Google doesn't spy. Google is tapped into lots of information. Making information available to the government is not spying. Spying is about going places you shouldn't or wouldn't normally go to collect information which you are not entitled to have. Google doesn't hack and crack to get its information. It reads what's out there and uses program logic to sort and categorize the information of millions of sources to try to make useful sense of it... and then sells it.

      • so, google is a traitor of the people because it rats on the people.

        call a spade a spade.

        its a whore to the advertising guys and the spooks as well.

        both *really* well respected folks, lemme tell you.

        not that it really matters, but my going to start my migration away from google, and while I realize that they already know what they know, I see no need to keep filling their till with my emails, etc.

        otoh, half - or more - of everyone I email seems to *also* be on gmail. so even if I migrate away, all my comms

        • Re:Sooooo (Score:5, Interesting)

          by erroneus (253617) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @07:30AM (#36784534) Homepage

          I've said it before and I will say it again. Google is an advertising/marketing company and because of that, I only trust them to be what they are and act accordingly. They offer great candy to the people, but I am careful about which candy I will eat. No Chrome for me, thanks. I only run customized Android OS loads with a lot of crap removed. I use Google for searching. That's just about it. The social network? Yeah, not gonna play there.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rmccoy (318169)

          The NSA doesn't need google to watch all of your internet traffic. They are already on the backbones. Google can certainly add value to the spooks with their search-related technologies but do you really think any US corporation isn't going to role over when the guys-in-black come calling? We allowed the Patriot Act, among other forfeitures of our civil rights, what did you expect?

          So, google got big because they did it best. Isn't that what the market is supposed to do? They did it before there were high b

        • by Nick Ives (317)

          I doubt Google has any choice in the matter. Your intelligence agencies can install fibre splitters wherever they please and intercept any traffic they like, as such the NSA will have complete access to Googles networks. If they're going further than that and Google is providing services to the NSA on a commercial basis then it's likely they were made an offer they couldn't refuse.

          Here in the UK network admins have to comply with all requests by the intelligence services. It's a criminal offence to tell any

      • by Grygus (1143095)

        That is an arbitrary definition of spying. There is no requirement for breaking and entering or hacking; merely secretly gathering information for potentially hostile use is spying, regardless of how the information is gathered.

      • by bonch (38532) *

        Google doesn't spy.

        It most certainly does, which is why it's under investigation by several governments in the world. Oh, sure, they claim they "accidentally" archived the data, but that suggests an absurd level of incompetence. Also, Google would never have told anyone about it if the German government hadn't probed for the information.

        Also, I'd like to note that if any other company had done this, such as Microsoft, Slashdot would have torn their head off. Because it's Google, however, they got a lot of f

        • by erroneus (253617)

          There was no shortage of outrage on slashdot over Google's collection of wifi data. I too expressed negatively over that. But I see Google within its own context. I've been in the advertising game selling free weekly newspapers. I know their hearts and how they think. No, Google's collection of data was not accidental, but it's also not like they parked outside and collected everything an individual had said either.

          I don't defend Google here or anywhere. It's like being afraid of fire. You trust fire

    • google is on the backbones. google can get at traffic. that's one thing. the other is that much of 'the internet' lands on google's servers via direct net.requests from users! no need to sniff when your traffic goes there on purpose!

      they have you sliced, diced and ready for the oven.

  • by houghi (78078) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @07:16AM (#36784468)

    In times where people get grabbed at airports, wiretaps are done at almost random, why would the NSA NOT use and abuse google?

    US citizens: you have made your nest (by voting between two evils) now sleep in it.

    • by shentino (1139071)

      It's a two party system.

      I had to vote for one of them.

      • by Legion303 (97901)

        It's a one-party system. You voted for the candidate with a slightly different label than the other candidate from this party.

        • by dcollins (135727)

          I'm pretty sure I voted for a candidate who promised the exact opposite of what he's done for 2+ years.

          • by Rich0 (548339)

            I'm pretty sure I voted for a candidate who promised the exact opposite of what he's done for 2+ years.

            So has about 95% of the voting population for the last 20 years. For whatever reason nobody ever figures this out...

        • Its a two party system where both parties are corrupt, and partially in cahoots. Yet one party hurts people less than the other, so in voting people feel they have some kind of a choice, if not an obligation.
      • It's a two party system.

        I had to vote for one of them.

        It's people like you that reinforce the two party bs by playing along.

      • It's a two party system.

        Yet the fact that there are typically more than two parties on a ballot, which the majority of voters believe will never win and don't want to "waste" their vote, is exactly why politics continues to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. You can't have change, because you're not shuffling the deck.

    • by jamesh (87723)

      In times where people get grabbed at airports, wiretaps are done at almost random, why would the NSA NOT use and abuse google?

      Someone gets it. And even if they did confirm it... what then? If I was an American citizen I wouldn't sleep any better with confirmation of the obvious. The next ruling by the judge would be "and you can't do anything about it".

      And what does "spying for NSA" mean anyway? It could be "tell me google... how many searches today for 'how to use anthrax as a biological weapon'" or it could be "what has IP address 1.2.3.4 been searching for?". The former is probably a bit of a stretch for "spying", but you'd ne

    • by Idbar (1034346)
      So, to my understanding. This is a double edged sword. If they come out to confirm they DO have access, people may run or think they are being observed. If they come out and confirm they DON'T have access, people will think that's likely to be a harbor for criminals to contact each other.

      Clearly, both situations are not convenient for either national security or Google.
    • by t2t10 (1909766)

      US citizens: you have made your nest (by voting between two evils) now sleep in it.

      And where is this any different? European intelligence services have at least as much power to access private data of European citizens, and they have had it pretty much forever.

    • by bonch (38532) * on Saturday July 16, 2011 @11:56AM (#36786346)

      I think it's odd that people are surprised by this at all. Eric Schmidt flat out stated that only people with something to hide care about privacy. That is your beloved Google, folks.

      • by swillden (191260)

        I think it's odd that people are surprised by this at all. Eric Schmidt flat out stated that only people with something to hide care about privacy. That is your beloved Google, folks.

        That's Schmidt's opinion. It's not the opinion of most (or even very many) of the people at Google, or of the people making the decisions at Google, nor is it the opinion of the current CEO. Google takes privacy very seriously. Yes, there have been a few mistakes, but everyone makes mistakes, and Google has come clean about its mistakes and tried to fix them.

        However, when faced with court orders or -- perhaps, I don't know this true, but I'm supposing -- arm-twisting by the NSA or other powerful branch

    • In times where people get grabbed at airports, wiretaps are done at almost random, why would the NSA NOT use and abuse google?

      More to the point, from the OP:

      EPIC is worried the 'NSA is developing technical standards that would enable greater surveillance of Internet users.

      Worried? I would think that was precisely something that is in the NSA's job description. Imagine if wiretapping was technically impossible. They would have to come up with an alternative.

  • I do: they do.

  • Sky=Falling (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SomewhatRandom (1299167) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @07:21AM (#36784486)

    Short version = I think I speak for most individuals when I say, Duh.

    Long Version =

    The illusion of anonymity that is the Internet. Does anyone honestly believe you have any real expectation or right of anonymity online?

    When you hit a webserver... Logs are generated/stored
    When traffic you generate is either passed through or blocked at a firewall... Logs are generated/stored
    When you use a search engine from a company in the advertising industry (ex: google)... logs are generated/stored
    Rinse and repeat for just about anything you do online... and add in a dash of other miscellaneous things like tracking cookies, flash cookies, etc...

    In some cases logs are obfuscated, but not usually. I mean c'mon - legitimate advertising companies have gotten pretty good at targeting ads for users by datamining and trending data, do you honestly believe the NSA isn't doing this to a creepy scope and scale?

    Correlating data mined from multiple sources (logs, cookies, etc...). is an expensive process from a resource standpoint. Anonymity through obfuscation, apathy, and prohibitive costs may be seemingly effective, but it is not absolute.

    • The illusion of anonymity that is the Internet. Does anyone honestly believe you have any real expectation or right of anonymity online?

      is it worth having? do you think its completely gone? is it preservable? recapturable?

      (I know, I ask a lot of questions for someone from new jersey)

      I don't think the horse has completely left the barn, yet. maybe we should try to not lose what we DO still have, hmm?

      or, shall we just say fuck-it and throw in the towel like smitty over at big-G wants?

  • After all, if Google wasn't spying for the NSA, they'd have nothing to hide... :-3

  • but shareholders absolutely have the right to know what Google is spending money on, and from where it is deriving its income. Shareholders are entitled to details about Google's assets, liabilities, income sources, and other financial details. If The Google is getting involved in shady backroom deals with the federal government, especially those that might later be found to be illegal, unconstitutional, crimes of War, or crimes against humanity, it puts shareholders at a substantial risk they deserve to kn

    • by sosume (680416)

      orly?

      I am an Apple shareholder. According to your logic, I can phone Steve Jobs now and demand he shows me the design of the iPhone 5, amirite? As a shareholder I am entitled to details about Apple's assets, liabilities, income sources, and other financial details, amirite?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        if your share is above 50% you cannot only phone and ask him, you can grab his char!

        Always depends on the numbers....

        You definitely have the right to be informed before the general public about important changes and business decisions for the year.

    • Umm... as a US citizen, ain't you kinda the "owner" of your country according to that old parchment starting with "We, the people"? Bark up the right tree and go to the source.

  • No Such Agency (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lexsird (1208192) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @07:52AM (#36784662)

    I have a bumper sticker for you; "It's a modern world; Surveillance Happens!"

    Our government has been eavesdropping on us since the telegraph. Accept it, get over it. I don't worry because I am a "good ole boy". If they watch the likes of me with an iota of interest, the world must indeed be safe and boring. 99.99999999% of us are boring as hell. Hence is why you have to automate this crap and search for key words, then individual vocal and speech patterns. I bet they have some sweet gear for listening in on us these days. If they don't, I am so seriously disappointed it makes me want to cry. If they don't, lets pitch in and get them something for Christmas, ok?

    On a slightly more somber note, I can't imagine what kind of monster computer these guys have. Seriously, what would YOU do with their computers if you were contracting for them and had access to them for a few hours. I would find a list of women who like middle aged fat guys. Make some serious raytraced animated porn? Or would you submit your "mind simulator" into it and see if you create a singularity? I think therefor I am? Or just get everyone in the building to get on a terminal and see what game everyone could play at once? Everyone log into WoW, make gnomes and storm Ironforge to be epically annoying?

    Eww! I know, one could steal back all the money and give it to the poor. They would just blow it and the rich would get it again, but it would make a grand holiday.

    Come on, people. It's the NSA, they are the weird uncle of the intelligence agencies as it is. They aren't worried about your mp3s, torrents, or your pron. 99.9999% of us are incapable of being weird enough to make their radar. Right? Besides, I am a Google fan, they stood up to China, and probably still are standing up to them. If the NSA is working with Google, that is cool. I bet they have some awesome apps for agents. "Google Agent"; I can see it now.

    Can't lick 'em, join 'em?

    • Those are some pretty contradicting words for someone whose sig says "Free Julian Assange."

      "He who is willing to sacrifice essential liberty for a little bit of temporary safety deserves neither liberty nor safety."
      -- Benjamin Franklin
    • by nurb432 (527695)

      On a slightly more somber note, I can't imagine what kind of monster computer these guys have. Seriously, what would YOU do with their computers if you were contracting for them and had access to them for a few hours. I would find a list of women who like middle aged fat guys. Make some serious raytraced animated porn? Or would you submit your "mind simulator" into it and see if you create a singularity? I think therefor I am? Or just get everyone in the building to get on a terminal and see what game everyone could play at once? Everyone log into WoW, make gnomes and storm Ironforge to be epically annoying?

      Dont worry, you will never find out. They take their job seriously.

    • by swillden (191260)

      99.99999999% of us are boring as hell

      So only one person in 10 billion is not "boring as hell"? That means there are only 0.7 people in the world the NSA finds interesting? I think you have a few too many nines there.

      99.9999% of us are incapable of being weird enough to make their radar.

      This is a bit better, but still... this means that only 300 people in the US are "weird enough to make their radar".

      The mathematical equivalent of using five exclamation points aside, the real problem is that you don't know, and you can't know if you'll ever be "interesting" to the NSA, FBI, etc. Given the vast numbers of laws

  • You can't have secret police unless you keep their activities secret, right? Close your web browser, citizen - you're not cleared to receive this information.
  • Can Google confirm or deny a relationship with the NSA?
    • by russotto (537200)

      Can Google confirm or deny a relationship with the NSA?

      If Google were to deny it, would you believe them? If the NSA were to deny it, would you believe them? If the NSA were to demand information from Google and Google were to refuse, do you think the NSA would simply give up and go away, or would they find some way to obtain the information?

      IMO, it's a pretty safe assumption that if the NSA wants information from Google, they can get it, by hook or by crook, no matter what either of them say about it.

  • Trailblazer and like programs crawl data to look for behavioral patterns. It's quite logical, if a wee bit over reaching.

    To assume that anything you do, say, click, view online is not subject to search, record, and data mining is to have a basic misunderstanding of reality.

  • Consider this: the internet was not created and then we began to lose our right to privacy, but instead, the internet was created to bypass our right to privacy, and we all fell for it.
  • Who could have thought that giving away our personal information over the Internet was a bad idea...
    I wonder if further concentrating all those information into the hands of a single company will make things worse? Naah, they're "not evil", what could possibly go wrong.
  • Which companies have fought the gov. and which have not? I would look a lot closer at the companies that do not fight with the gov, then the one that likes to fight them. Bing anyone?
  • Intelligence agencies all over the world can look at lots of things and you won't find out. They get Internet connection data, packet contents, data stored in the cloud. Both in the US and Europe (as well as elsewhere), they can install key loggers and viruses on your computer to track what you type, get your passwords, access your data, etc. This didn't start with 9/11, it's been there since the cold war (although it has been more restricted in the US than elsewhere). It's questionable, but it hasn't b

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