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Eric Schmidt, Jared Cohen Say Google Data Now Protected From Gov't Spying 155

Posted by timothy
from the now-how-to-effectively-test? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Google's Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen were [part of a] wide-ranging session at SXSW today and they revealed that Google's data is now safely protected from the prying eyes of government organizations. In the last few days Google upgraded its security measure following revelations that Britain's GCHQ had intercepted data being transmitted between Google datacenters, Schmidt said that his company's upgrades following the incident left him 'pretty sure that information within Google is now safe from any government's prying eyes.'"
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Eric Schmidt, Jared Cohen Say Google Data Now Protected From Gov't Spying

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  • by thaylin (555395) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @04:17PM (#46435857)

    Sure, the data might be safe from a government's prying eyes, but will it be safe from a government who kindly pays for the data, with the company acquiescing between it wants to maintain its lucrative business links with the authorities?

    FTFY

  • by louarnkoz (805588) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @04:51PM (#46436009)
    Governments can indeed ask for some data, using subpoena or in the case of the US "National Security Network." But for that, they have to actually ask, and the request has to be targeted, naming for example a specific individual. The NSA and the GCHQ were not content with that, they wanted to grab "everything," so instead of the legal channels they used a hack. The hack was to spy on the internal network of Google, and of other services as well, because these internal exchanges were not encrypted.

    According to Eric Schmidt, now they are. This is absolutely good news. It is also exactly what the Electronic Frontier Foundation is asking web services to do. You can check the relative state of Google and other services according to the EFF at: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/... [eff.org].

  • Re:Yeah right (Score:2, Interesting)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @05:58PM (#46436363) Journal
    Let's assume that he's only talking about unauthorized data leakage, not cases where he gives the data away. Because we know he does that.

    In that case, should we believe him? The answer is no. If you want to make sure your data is safe, you need to close all exploits in your code (we're just talking about the easy part here, not the social engineering). If someone says, "I'm pretty sure my code is safe" you know he's wrong, because he hasn't gone through the effort necessary to make the code secure. It's essentially the same as saying, "our code is bug free because we don't know of any bugs." Well.....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 08, 2014 @07:55PM (#46436919)
    I think this is a less biased account
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J... [wikipedia.org]
  • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Sunday March 09, 2014 @01:13AM (#46437967) Homepage Journal

    Sure, the data might be safe from a government's prying eyes, but will it be safe from a government who kindly asks for the data, with the company acquiescing between it wants to maintain its lucrative business links with the authorities?

    Governments can ask, and Google will say "No, please come back with an order."

    Governments can order, and Google will comply, as long as the order was issued by proper authority, isn't excessively broad, etc. And then Google will add the order, and the number of accounts it affects, to the next transparency report.

    That's not perfect, but it's much, much better than the government being able to snarf all the data with no accountability at all.

  • Re:Yeah right (Score:4, Interesting)

    by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Sunday March 09, 2014 @01:15AM (#46437969) Homepage Journal

    Seriously is there anyone that would actually believe such a statement?

    I do, but as a Google engineer involved in security and privacy infrastructure I'm in a position with much greater than normal visibility into exactly what is done and how.

  • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Sunday March 09, 2014 @01:45AM (#46438025) Homepage Journal

    Governments can ask, and Google will say "No, please come back with an order."

    How do you know Google will say, "No, please come back with an order?" What if Google only tells the public that it insists on the government presenting a lawfully issued court order, but in fact it secretly gives the government whatever information wants? Speculation that Google is deeply implicated with the US government has been going around for over a decade now.

    How do I know? Well, (a) Google's leadership says so and AFAICT there is no law that allows the government to compel them to lie, publicly or internally and in fact there are laws that make it a crime for executives of publicly-traded companies to lie about issues which could affect the stock price (which this definitely does!); (b) as a Google employee who manages sensitive user data I have some visibility into how requests for that data are handled; and (c) as someone who is familiar with Google culture I find it inconceivable that such a thing could be happening on any kind of significant scale without being outed -- like most of silicon valley, and like geeks in general, Googlers tend to be pretty iconoclastic and anti-authoritarian.

    Speculation that Google is deeply implicated with the US government has been going around for over a decade now.

    If the speculation has been floating around that long, without a shred of evidence to support it in spite of the large-scale conspiracy that would be required to keep all such evidence suppressed, I think that's pretty compelling evidence that it's not true. You can never completely prove a negative, of course, but you can asymptotically approach certainty.

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