When Edward Snowden blew the lid on NSA‘s massive digital surveillance, many including Google denounced the agency. A fresh badge of emails released by Al-Jazeera now shows that Google and NSA had quite a friendly relationship.
The revelations are not all that surprising. The emails include conversations between former NSA director, General Keith Alexander and Google’s top executives. However, the text of the emails show that they are talking about attending events which NSA believes are essential for companies such as Google.
Most of these events are about security vulnerabilities in different platforms and attempts at devising solutions to patch them. We know, in light of the Snowden leaks, that NSA tapped into the data of different companies including Google without their permission. The emails further confirm this, showing that General Keith Alexander rounded up all tech companies over the pretext of national security.
Later, when the agency devised and implemented a solution to take care of many vulnerabilities, it also bugged the data from major tech companies. That was one of the cornerstones of NSA’s surveillance strategy.
The email do reveal that the relationship between Google co-founder Sergey Brin and General Alexander was fairly friendly. Their conversations are casual and in the emails, they talk to each other without many formalities. Unlike what many sites are trying to make it out to be, these emails are nothing damning for Google. They only show how NSA lured the tech companies into a false sense of security by assuring them that the agency only wanted to patch vulnerabilities for the sake of national security.
Al-Jazeera has been able to obtain these emails from the authorities through Freedom of Information Act. And the media group claims that there are more where these came from. So unless Al-Jazeera shows something that directly embroils Google executives in an attempt to deliberately sell its users’ data or comprise their privacy, the emails are merely an attempt to reinvigorate the privacy debate by offering rare few dregs of new insights.