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DOJ Asks Court To Keep Secret Google / NSA Partnership 157

Posted by timothy
from the can-neither-confirm-nor-deny dept.
SonicSpike writes "The Justice Department is defending the government's refusal to discuss — or even acknowledge the existence of — any cooperative research and development agreement between Google and the National Security Agency. The Washington based advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center sued in federal district court here to obtain documents about any such agreement between the Internet search giant and the security agency. The NSA responded to the suit with a so-called 'Glomar' response in which the agency said it could neither confirm nor deny whether any responsive records exist. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in Washington sided with the government last July."
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DOJ Asks Court To Keep Secret Google / NSA Partnership

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:11AM (#39338363)

    China can neither confirm or deny that the U.S. contracting out almost all its intelligence work now to third-party private contractors like Google, Stratfor, etc. makes it a lot easier to steal classified intelligence and code from you dumb yankees.

  • Who really cares? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:19AM (#39338413)

    Since NSA took over Facebook all of the data they need is on there.

  • by RivenAleem (1590553) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:22AM (#39338441)

    It's super effective!

    • by gnick (1211984) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @11:09AM (#39338985) Homepage

      Actually it is... When you ask a question like this, it just publicizes suspicion. I think it's likely that there's a relationship there, but if you asked the NSA, something preposterous like "Is gnick collaborating with you to collect information about slashdot users?" Their response would be identical to this one.

      • by RivenAleem (1590553) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @12:07PM (#39339633)

        Well I 'know' that, you 'know' that, everybody 'knows' that, doesn't make it true!

        BTW, ensure to put in your report that RivenAleem has not, nor ever will plot any acts of terrorism against the USA, because he's such a swell guy. And ensure you get the capital A right, people are always forgetting that.

  • Fascism in action (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:22AM (#39338453) Homepage

    "Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power." -Benito Mussolini

    What we currently have is corporations acting as arms of the government, and government acting as an arm of corporations, to the point where they aren't very distinguishable.

    • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @11:53AM (#39339485) Homepage

      "Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power." -Benito Mussolini

      Besides the fact that Mussolini's use of the term "corporate" in other contexts does not refer to businesses in the sense we use it, this particular quote seems to be spurious [wikiquote.org] and it's likely that he said no such thing. Please don't perpetuate false quotations.

    • by cold fjord (826450) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @01:21PM (#39340679)

      "Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power." -Benito Mussolini

      What we currently have is corporations acting as arms of the government, and government acting as an arm of corporations, to the point where they aren't very distinguishable.

      When commentators can't distinguish between government and contractors, the problem isn't fascism, the problem is nonsense passing as insight.

    • by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @01:37PM (#39340917)

      What we currently have is corporations acting as arms of the government, and government acting as an arm of corporations, to the point where they aren't very distinguishable.

      The one obvious telltale is the size of the Golden Parachute.

    • by Danathar (267989) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @02:47PM (#39341943) Journal

      The only difference between the left and the right is which set of corporations they support.

      • by cffrost (885375) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @03:40AM (#39361723) Homepage

        The only difference between the politicians on left and the right is which set of corporations they support.

        FTFY. Sane, intelligent individuals, no matter how far left or right, recognize corporations for what they are: Unfeeling, nearly unbounded forces of nature, with their own welfare as their sole objective. The illusion of altruism that may come from a corporation is either coincidental alignment of human/corporate values, or intentional manipulation in order to separate more monetary lifeblood from the easily manipulated.

        Guys, corporations are not people, Citizens United notwithstanding. And they sure as hell aren't your pal. They're not even human, and supposing for a moment they were, they'd be the most sociopathic, morally-bankrupt, vicious apes to walk the Earth. Anyone who needs to cling emotionally to a massive hierarchical organization to feel right, please find a non-profit/charitable organization to be the object of your affection.

        My apologies for the tangent. With all the 1984 prophecies unfolding these days, this is one unexpected facet that I find particularly depressing and almost completely ignored.

  • by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:24AM (#39338475)

    The NSA responded to the suit with a so-called 'Glomar' response in which the agency said it could neither confirm nor deny whether any responsive records exist.

    The NSA Representative then followed up that they could neither confirm nor deny the existence of the NSA as well. The reporters counter question was, "So you're saying that there may, or may not be an arrangement between Google and an agency that may or may not exist?" To which the NSA representative simply replied, "I'm not saying anything." And then promptly morphed into a bubble which shrank out of existence over a three second period of time and vanished with a small pop.

  • Not surpised (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:25AM (#39338483) Journal
    Go ask for docs on NSA and MS partnership, or NSA and Apple, or NSA and Yahoo, or NSA and even Bull. You will find that many companies, even those not based here have something going on.

    Now, go ask Apple, MS and Yahoo there involvement with China. If you get an honest answer, you would be shocked and PISSED.
  • by realitycheckplease (2487810) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:29AM (#39338533)
    Occasionally, when in the name of security, someone says "we can neither confirm nor deny x", x isn't happening (for whatever value of "happening" is appropriate to x). In this case, given the US attitude to jurisdiction the reality may be quite simple. Any data or communications processed on or passed through any system that is owned, operated, managed or otherwise controlled by any US entity or subsidiary thereof may be arbitrarily hoovered up by the NSA or other similar agencies. They will then analyse it however they wish for whatever purpose they want. This can happen regardless of what connections are known to exist between the US authorities and any individual provider. Attempting to discover the scope and extent of those connections may thus be a pointless exercise. The same thing probably happens in many other countries too.
    • Generally this response has the informal meaning of Confirming something, but it avoids perjury.

      • by Dhalka226 (559740) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @11:42AM (#39339387)

        It sometimes confirms something, but only if the person (or agency in this case) accidentally confirming it isn't particularly clever.

        Monday: "Did you steal my sandwich?" "Of course not!"
        Tuesday: "Did you steal my sandwich?" "Of course not!"
        Wednesday: "Did you steal my sandwich?" "I can neither confirm nor deny whether or not I may have stolen your sandwich."

        That doesn't work. If you want "I can't confirm or deny" to work you have to use it consistently.

        In this case it's a one-time allegation about something EPIC has little or no proof even exists. Can "give me all your secret information NOW!" be responded to with anything other than "I'm not even going to tell you if I have secret information much less give any of it to you?"

        • Nice effort, but it's still not quite the way it all shakes out. The way you prove it is use their own new laws/proto-laws against them. (Enforcement is a problem, but that's the next problem.)

          "We can neither confirm or deny that we have secret info".
          "Sudo you stole an iPad and downloaded a Journey album and violated a patent on a method of being a weasel. Now give us your secret info."
          "Okay, here's our info!"

          It's a government agency. Of course they have Non-Zero info about *everything*.

  • by teebowdada (618188) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:33AM (#39338567)
    If I could borrow from Mr Rubin, there's no "firewall" between Google and the NSA.
  • by FellowConspirator (882908) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:39AM (#39338645)

    Google and Facebook were just NSA and CIA fronts. The best part would be that they have an almost self-sustaining business model so the cost of running it is defrayed. People get cheap software, and the government gets cheap information on the users plus surveillance and tracking devices in every pocket...

  • by tinkerton (199273) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:41AM (#39338659)

    Don't be evil ...without cause.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:45AM (#39338695)

    Not so secret now, is it?

  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:54AM (#39338785)

    quote:

    EPIC said its records request does not seek documents about NSA's role to secure government computer networks. "Google provides cloud-based services to consumers, not critical infrastructure services to the government," Rotenberg said.

    once google 'grew up' and got cozy with the government, I don't think there's any going back. they are *both* for the consumer (if you think that way) and now they are also a source of info feed for the government agencies.

    I don't think google set out to do this, when they were a 1000 person company or less; but at their huge successful size and power, now, I don't see how you can exist and not be forced to 'play ball' when ask^Htold to by those who really run things.

    with all the data google has, do you really think the gov would sit back and not ask for a fiber tap and a cut of the action, so to speak? come on.

    only some of the googlers would be able to deal with this, and it ruins the whole 'do no evil' sunshine and ponies bullshit game they play. whatever ties there are, it won't be confirmable or made public. not even from inside the normal rank and file. but the same as any large powerful company that has things the government wants.

    its always been this way, though. don't be shocked. companies and governments are powerful entities and from time to time, they 'have lunch' together.

    "its all part of the plan" ;)

  • by kimvette (919543) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:57AM (#39338819) Homepage Journal

    So much for Obama's promise of government transparency.

    Romney will be no better either. Too bad it isn't practical to pull a Monty Brewster and check "None of the above." I want to write in Ron Paul, but he hasn't a chance of getting elected. He just isn't marketable enough for the drooling masses. :-(

    • by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @11:27AM (#39339209) Homepage

      Voting Ron Paul, or any member of any third party you like, IS voting none of the above. It would not take a majority of voters doing such a thing, to get the parties to notice that swath of potential swing voters isn't buying the current political narrative, and then cater to those voters by changing the narrative. But because everyone is so concerned about picking a winner, we ensure that we only get losers in office.

      Voting isn't a bet like picking a horse in a race -- unless you're donating millions to candidates you aren't going to get anything from being in a winning politician's camp except for the feeling that your candidate won. But when that candidate turns around and screws you, what is that winning feeling really worth? Nothing, and worse, you gave up your chance to actually vote for change -- the change that comes when politicians realize that people aren't sucking up their BS like they used to and that sticking with the status quo can cost an election. For the average American, this represents a much bigger win than the temporary happiness of being on a winning team, but in order to win the war, you have to be willing to lose some battles along the way to prove the point.

      Here's a list of third parties. Pick one that reflects your values and vote with pride:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_political_parties_in_the_United_States [wikipedia.org]

    • by doston (2372830) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @11:36AM (#39339331)

      So much for Obama's promise of government transparency.

      Romney will be no better either. Too bad it isn't practical to pull a Monty Brewster and check "None of the above." I want to write in Ron Paul, but he hasn't a chance of getting elected. He just isn't marketable enough for the drooling masses. :-(

      Not marketable enough? You mean not desireable enough for the corporations who market the likes of Larry King to the drooling masses, to market him, because if he was, they'd be able to market Paul. The media in the US could get a literal monkey elected, if it was pro corporate enough. And by now it's hardly the drooling masses. To quote "How to get ahead in advertising" on marketing and the PR industry...."...if you breathe, it works on you...".

    • by offerk (764276) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @11:41AM (#39339375) Journal

      I want to write in Ron Paul, but he hasn't a chance of getting elected. He just isn't marketable enough for the drooling masses. :-(

      Ron Paul Newsletters Controversy [wikipedia.org].
      Really? This is a man you would endorse for president? I think /. is for sci/tech not politics usually, but since you brought it up - how can you support someone who would, say, refuse to hire you because of your skin color, instead of your skills? Shouldn't we tech people be better than that?

  • by Troyusrex (2446430) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @11:10AM (#39338991)
    I'm surprised that so many people are taking NSA's "neither confirm nor deny" as proof of Google's guilt. Ask them if they had a ham sandwich for lunch and they'll give you that response. It is the STANDARD response and means absolutely nothing. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if they were or were not working with the NSA but the NSA's statement gives no information as to wether they are or not.
    • by cpghost (719344) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @12:27PM (#39339885) Homepage
      Actually, the standard answer of "neither confirm nor deny" is the output of a some super-secret encryption algorithm they developed... If only we could decrypt it, we would obtain the desired answer to all questions about Life, the Universe, and Everything.
  • by t4ng* (1092951) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @12:47PM (#39340199)
    They are just wasting it [slashdot.org] anyway!
  • by PPH (736903) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @01:54PM (#39341123)

    ... never claim innocence. Always plead guilty to a lesser offense.

    NSA: "Why yes. We have been working with Google to secure their IT infrastructure and protect their user's data."
    Or: "We have been working with them on techniques applicable for mining large quantities of data."

    It could even be correct, although an incomplete explanation. But it will satisfy most people's curiosity and explain the presence of NSA personnel on Google property. For the tin foil hat crowd, there is nothing anyone could say to allay their suspicion.

    If I have a safe in my house, and people suspect that fact, I'll place a cheap locked box where its relatively easy to find, with a few hundred dollars in it. That'll satisfy most stupid burglars and keep them from looking for the real deal.

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