Google: There Is No PRISM Back Door To Our Servers, No Open-Ended Access To User Data

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All of the companies that are allegedly involved in the PRISM surveillance program have now issued short statements saying that they are not participating in this program and that they are not allowing the government “direct access” to their servers. Among these, of course, is Google. The company, however, also just issued a longer statement penned by its CEO Larry Page and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond.

In it, Page and Drummond argue, just like in the company’s shorter statement, that Google does not give the U.S. government “direct access or a ‘back door’ to the information stored in our data centers.” Indeed, just like Apple, Google claims that it “had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday.”

Google also argues that it had never heard of a broad type of order like the one Verizon apparently received and which led to the release of millions of call records. “Until this week’s reports, we had never heard of the broad type of order that Verizon received — an order that appears to have required them to hand over millions of users’ call records. We were very surprised to learn that such broad orders exist,” Page and Drummond write.

Most importantly, though, Google continues to argue that it is not providing the government with “open-ended access to [its] users’ data.” “Press reports that suggest that Google is providing open-ended access to our users’ data are false, period,” they claim.

The two also use this opportunity to stress that the company frequently pushes back when it does receive legal requests for data and that, in their view, “this episode confirms what we have long believed—there needs to be a more transparent approach.” What exactly this approach would look like, Page and Drummond don’t go into here, but they do note that “the level of secrecy around the current legal procedures undermines the freedoms we all cherish.”