Google in bed with the NSA? That possibility is raised by the disclosure by Al Jazeera of communications between Google chairman Eric Schmidt and NSA chief General Keith Alexander
In one leaked email, Schmidt, unable to attend a meeting of company bigwigs called by the NSA, wrote, ’General Keith… so great to see you…! I’m unlikely to be in California that week so I can’t attend. Would love to see you another time. Thank you!” Do these comments suggest something of a more friendly relationship than would be expected with the head of an often antagonistic government agency? Or is Mr. Schmidt just naturally charming?
To be fair, Schmidt has been a vocal critic of the NSA since the revelations of NSA surveillance last year by Edward Snowden. And Google does claim to encrypt all its traffic to deter NSA snooping. Apparently they haven’t responded to inquiries about cosiness with the NSA. And Maybe they shouldn’t. After all, the meeting which was mentioned concerned an industry group called the Enduring Freedom Framework (EFF). It is comprised of 18 IT industry CEOs. This group is involved in a collaborative effort to coordinate actions on a variety of security issues. So Schmidt in demurring might just have been being polite in order to grease the skids for some future compromise.
There has been evidence of successful collaboration in the past between the NSA and the tech industry. It was believed that China was behind a plot to destroy the US economy by bricking BIOS chips. In that case there was cooperation between the agency and the industry to thwart the action. But it was this very project that led to NSA developing a series of backdoors. Hence, the skepticism.
One can only hope that there is not more to this than corporate cordiality. It would be a hard pill to swallow if in fact NSA had a rubber stamp in the media giant Google.